Midland at last to bid farewell to ‘temporary’ Broadway-Calvert bump-outs from 2006

       In 2006, a city contractor installed temporary “bump-outs” to shorten the pedestrian crossing distance at the Calvert Avenue/Broadway Street intersection next to Midland Elementary. The idea was to replace them with permanent structures after they'd been tested for a few months to see how well they worked for “traffic calming.”
       Five years later, the temporaries are still in place. However, after an up-and-down saga in which the city eliminated its calming program early last year, then recently won a $229,000 state grant, permanency at last appears certain.
       In addition to replacing the temporaries at the corners of the intersection, the grant money will add sidewalks and pedestrian ramps along Broadway, “the major walk route to/from Mid-land,” according to the city's approved grant request to the Colorado Department of Transporta-tion's Safe Routes to Schools program.

Looking northeast toward Midland Elementary just after school let out this week, students are seen at the intersection of Broadway Street and Calvert Avenue. Next year the city plans to place permanent, concrete "bump-outs" - aimed at slowing traffic and shortening the street-crossing distance - in about the same locations as these structures. They were installed in 2006 through the city's "traffic calming" program with the idea they'd be replaced in just a few months if they worked well. But the program was defunded, and the temporary structures stayed.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The tentative schedule anticipates several months of planning, design and review, with construction occurring in July and August 2012.
       “I like it from the standpoint that it's [Calvert and Broadway] probably the busiest corner for kids who are walking,” said Midland Principal Jeremy Cramer. “Anything that makes it more visible to drivers coming through is great for us.”
       The grant request found that out of a 174-student enrollment, roughly a third walked or rode bikes. The city would like those numbers to go up at least 25 percent after the project is complete, and - in response to the grant's “Encourage-ment/Education” component - will even try to make it so. Initial efforts, in conjunction with DriveSmart (a national program coordinated locally by Colorado Springs Police) will include giving students “customized walk/bike-to-school maps,” walk/bike training (using materials from two previous city Safe Routes grants) and a take-home, bilingual DVD.
       If a 25 percent increase does not result, City Traffic staff and DriveSmart will “conduct more student and parent education to encourage walking and bicycling to school,” the grant request states. “This may necessitate additional survey work to identify what issues remain that prevent students from walking and bicycling to school.”
       The main safety concern for Broadway is its width. At 50 feet across, the street is considered too wide for a neighborhood street going past a school. There is also a concern about its missing or inadequate sidewalk where it goes past homes.
       “Completing the missing sidewalk segments and accessible ramps along Broadway will serve Midland students that live along the south side of Broadway or on the many side streets south of Broadway,” the grant request states. “Currently, students south of Broadway either walk in the dirt/grass or walk in the street along Broadway's south curb line or they cross unassisted and with no traffic control across Broadway to get to some older attached sidewalks along the north curb line that are about 3 ½ feet wide and not fully accessible.
       “The construction of bump-outs at the Calvert/ Broadway intersection will substantially shorten the existing school distance crossing from 50 feet to around 26 feet [the same as they are now with the temporaries], almost half the distance/ exposure. The bump-outs will also prevent illegal parking/standing of vehicles in the crosswalk area and also improve the visibility of the students and the stopsigns at the intersection.”
       Also mentioned as issues by neighbors during the Broadway “calming” discussions several years ago were occasional drag racing events on the straight, flat street and its use as a “cut-through” for drivers between 21st and 26th streets.
       The calming concern is noted in the grant request, which identifies the project as “Phase 1” of the “Midland Elementary School Sidewalk/Traffic Calming Improvements.” The grant request states that “this Phase 1 project will address needs directly adjacent to the school and some needs along the main walk routes west and south of the school. This is part of a larger project to install accessible pedestrian facilities and perhaps more traffic calming to/from Midland.”
       Although “Phase 2” is not detailed in the grant request, past city calming plans for Broadway additionally included traffic circles at Westend Avenue and Market Street.

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