Chestnut ‘island’ gets plenty of traffic visitors

       A couple of months ago, to ease a busy crossing for Sinton Trail users, Colorado Springs Parks installed a raised concrete island in the middle of Chestnut Street, just south of the Ellston Street T-intersection.
       Local drivers haven't completely taken to the change - as of last week there had been five documented reports of drivers plowing into it, and possibly some hit-and- runs, judging by the tire marks and chipped concrete.
       “I've had quite a few people call me and complain,” said Cynthia McGrath of the Holland Park Homeowners Association. Although she understands the pedestrian need - Chestnut is a busy street, known for speeders - residents would have appreciated some notice. However, “there was no discussion with the association,” she said. “It just showed up.”
       The accidents have led City Traffic Engineering to investigate the matter and make some upgrades. These included installing delineators (things that look like bright yellow sticks) and reflectors to enhance the island's visibility. Engineers also ran a test to verify that a semi could negotiate the left turn from Ellston onto Chestnut and have looked into adding flashing lights or extending the island south - the concept being that if it were bigger, motorists would be more likely to see it, explained David Krauth of Traffic Engineering.
       Part of the problem is that the intersection typically involves local drivers who were used to it being a certain way, he noted. One past driving behavior was the left from Ellston, in which motorists would merge into southbound traffic via the middle lane between Chestnut's two through lanes. Except the island is there now.
       But Krauth thinks the main problem is something else. “When we looked at the accident reports, the vast majority were 3 to 4 o'clock in the afternoon,” he said. “And when our staff went out, they noticed there's a sun-glare issue then,” affecting the vision of drivers turning off Ellston.
       The good news is that the glare occurs “only for about three weeks a year,” Krauth said. “I'm expecting those accidents to tail off completely.”
       Still, he's not taking the problem for granted. “We're really monitoring it,” he said. “It's important because it's a pedestrian and trail crossing. So if a driver can't see the island they probably can't see the pedestrians either.”
       According to Chris Lieber, development manager for City Parks, the intent of the island (which he termed a “refuge”), was “to create a safer bike and pedestrian crossing. We had heard from a number of trail users that the intersection was difficult to get across. So we were looking for options to improve safety there.”
       The refuge/island was part of trail improvements on Ellston in the past year. There were also pedestrian ramps installed. Feedback from trail users has been positive since the work was finished, Lieber added.

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