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City: Roundabout at 31st and Fontanero

       Among several planned upgrades along the Camp Creek corridor through Pleasant Valley, a roundabout at 31st and Fontanero streets is the most likely to be built first, according to Colorado Springs Engineer-ing Manager Mike Chaves.
       Speaking at the city's public open house in June, Chaves termed the intersection project a “priority for the city” that would be safer and smoother than the current four-way stop.

Attendees at the city's Camp Creek project open house in June study city posters about the city-proposed roundabout (see suggested drawing in foreground) at 31st and Fontanero streets.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The concept attracted pushback from many of the 75 people at the open house, which was held at Holmes Middle School. It was pointed out that even if the roundabout does move cars better through 31st and Fontanero, there will be no gain unless the city solves the way 31st backs up at rush hour around Colorado Avenue and Highway 24.

A city drawing depicts a landscaped median (between the two sides of 31st Street). The median would be built above an underground creek-drainage pipe, extended to a point south of Willamette Avenue.
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Engineering

       The city had no answer to that at the open house, but Tim Roberts of City Traffic Engineering said a week afterward that he's gained management approval to study 31st Street's capacity as a whole, which could involve the help of a hired consultant.
       No funding sources exist currently for a 31st-and-Fontanero roundabout, but the $2 million estimated cost would be relatively affordable, “as opposed to $30 million for the whole corridor,” Chaves elaborated. Although the city is looking for funding now, he did not suggest a date before 2024, when, if area voters reapprove the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's capital-improvement tax, the project could be added to its list.

A view down Water Street shows the direct line it currently takes from 30th Street (foreground) to its bridge over 31st Street. In part because this invites cut-through traffic, the city is planning to move the bridge a short distance north to make the route less inviting to motorists.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The Camp Creek corridor, as defined by the city, takes in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood as well as the area of the creek's channel north of there, through the Garden of the Gods and Rock Ledge Ranch.
       Previously implemented Camp Creek projects since 2014 are a channel stabilization project completed in 2016, with another such effort scheduled in 2019 at the lower end of Rock Ledge Ranch.
       Also, the city now foresees construction to start in 2019 on a large storm detention pond at the north end of the Garden of the Gods that is expected to reduce the number of Pleasant Valley homes in the floodplain. It has been on hold since 2016, when a city contractor found some artifacts from the 1800s in that area.
       Chaves has since explained that the find was not major, but a time delay was required to document the information under state and federal government historical regulations.
       Within Pleasant Valley itself, where Camp Creek flows through a man-made ditch between the two sides of 31st Street, city recommendations from the 2013-2014 Camp Creek study called for bridge replacements, floodplain reduction measures, improved emergency access and a naturalized waterway, with rock walls and landscaping replacing the current concrete slabs that line the ditch.
       While that strategy has not fundamentally changed, city engineers have developed “refinements,” as they call them. Among these is the roundabout concept at 31st and Fontanero.
       In a roundabout, traffic is continuous, with vehicles in the circle having the right of way. City engineers assert that this will mean less congestion, braking/acceleration noise, cut-through traffic and air pollution, while providing “a focal point or gateway for the neighborhood,” as it's stated in the city's Camp Creek newsletter.
       Other refinements involve extending the length of the ditch's landscaped medians - where the water flows through an underground pipe instead of an open channel - and relocating or adding bridges over the creek.
       The only current landscaped median is a short section south of Bijou Street. The city plan is to extend it north to about Willamette. That's where the ditch/road is steepest, so piping it - with an attractive median above - makes sense from an erosion standpoint, according to city engineers.
       Water Street's bridge would move north about half a block. The city intent is to discourage it as a commuter-traffic cut-through. A new traffic bridge would go in at 31st and Adams Drive.

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