Ridge Road traffic now stymied in 2 places, but pedestrian bridge is coming
But three changes were (and are) in the works.
Change 1: The January closure of the block of Ridge just north of Colorado Avenue. As discussed at public meetings between 2012 and 2014, the change will allow construction of a pedestrian “plaza” there for the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) project.
Change 2: Temporary barricades at Ridge, quietly placed on either side of Highway 24 several months ago by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). This change, which CDOT is making permanent, prevents Ridge drivers from crossing the highway and requires them to turn right.
Change 3: A planned pedestrian bridge over the highway connecting Ridge on either side. Although this project is not yet funded or scheduled, it is supported by both Dave Watt, the CDOT resident engineer; and Kathleen Krager, the city's transportation manager.
From a technical standpoint, the end result of Changes 2 and 3 would be a Ridge/24 intersection that's noticeably different from what's called for in the state's long-range highway plan.
Titled “Envision 24 West,” it was federally approved in 2012 after an $8-million study (including numerous public meetings) that identified future highway upgrades between I-25 and Ridge. See the graphic on this page for specific comparisons.
Watt said the Envision plan has not been abandoned. But the implementation cost would be in the multi-million-dollar range. “We don't have that type of money right now,” he said. “These are interim improvements to make the intersection as safe as we can.”
The decision to limit Ridge traffic to right turns was based on immediate safety concerns, resulting from increasing “traffic volumes and speeds,” he elaborated.
This assertion was seconded by a state patrol officer watching traffic recently near the intersection. He commented that the worst accidents there have been “T- bone” types caused by drivers trying to cross the highway from Ridge. He added that since the right-turn-only barricades went in, the accident numbers have dropped.
CDOT is developing plans to make the traffic limitation permanent. Depending on schedules and funding, such a project “may happen this year,” Watt said, pointing out that discussions this spring within the state agency should lead to “more definition.”
As for Change 3 (the pedestrian bridge), it would give nonmotorized travelers “safe access to Red Rocks,” Krager said in an e-mail exchange.
She added that design details are still under consideration, and the bridge will not be built before a “public participation” process.
In the meantime, Krager said she is “trying to get an agreement with CDOT to split the funding.”
Watt struck a similar chord, saying that although “we don't have that type of money right now, we'd like to look at it with the city and county.”
Westside Pioneer article