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Access limits permanent for Ridge Rd at Hwy 24; pedestrian bridge in the offing

Feb. 8, 2018
       A year ago, motorists could use Ridge Road as a direct route between Red Rock Canyon Open Space and the Garden of the Gods less than a mile away.
       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
A view looking north on Ridge Road shows how its former direct route between Red Rock Canyon Open Space and the Garden of the Gods no longer exists. In the foreground, right-turn-only signs are posted on either side of Ridge at Highway 24; in the background, backhoes shape the now-closed-off block of Ridge north of Colorado Avenue for a plaza. A future pedestrian bridge is to span the highway on either side of Ridge.
Westside Pioneer photo
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
A traffic graphic compares the long-range plan for Highway 24 at Ridge Road (Envision 24 West) with the current government strategy there.
Westside Pioneer graphic
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 at left 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 within the state agency should lead to “more definition,” perhaps as early as March.
       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, regarding the cost, 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
(Transportation: Major Roads)

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