Much ado about nothing?
St. Vrain/ 18th may go back to the way it was
History was about to change at St. Vrain and 18th streets. Now it might not.
Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering has found that widening the 100-year-plus narrow access between the two streets would cost nearly twice the $40,000 the city had expected.
So, a letter went out last week to the residents in the block of St. Vrain between 18th and 19th streets, asking them to “vote” on two options:
The letter, from Dave Krauth of Traffic Engineering, asks the residents to contact him by phone or e-mail by Friday, Oct. 19. So far, he said, the responses have indicated most people want it back the way it was.
Fred Bishop, who has lived in the block since 1954, is one of those. He did an informal survey of his own, talking to several neighbors who feel the same way. Right now, “it doesn't matter if the [one-way] sign is up,” he said. “People go back and forth the way they always did.”
The saga began last spring when newer neighbors, at the corner of 18th and St. Vrain, complained to the city that the narrow access might be a safety hazard. A Traffic Engineering employee inspected the intersection and agreed, blocking it off initially with a barricade. This led to a backlash from the neighborhood and an apology from the city for not talking to the residents first. At an ensuing neighborhood meeting, city officials said that, neighborhood sentiments notwithstanding, it would be safer to widen the access to a proper two-lane width. The specific cost was tentatively set at $38,000, with the work to be done this fall.
However, in working out the design details, the city learned that a catch basin and a sanitary sewer manhole had to be relocated - increasing the work total by as much as $35,000, Krauth said in a phone interview. “You've got to be good stewards with taxpayer dollars,” he said. “I could spend the money on school crosswalks or at intersections where we've had problems.”
As it is, despite the city's safety concerns about 18th and St. Vrain, both streets are lightly used and anecdotal reports indicate there was never a traffic accident during all the years the access was two-way.
City Council member Jerry Heimlicher, who helped set up last spring's meeting, said he is willing to stand by a decision of the residents.
Westside Pioneer article