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Looking east on Fontanero at 31st Street, traffic is backed up to 30th. A one-lane roundabout is proposed instead of stop signs for the 31st-and-Fontanero intersection's bridge over Camp Creek (foreground). The city belief is that it will move traffic through the intersection more efficiently.
Westside Pioneer photo

Camp Creek study: Roundabout top priority for 31st, but city to review street as a whole

June 16, 2018
       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,
Attendees at the Camp Creek project open house June 5 inside the Holmes Middle School cafeteria look at city posters illustrating/defining the city-proposed roundabout at the intersection of 31st and Fontanero streets.
Westside Pioneer photo
according to Colorado Springs Engineering Manager Mike Chaves.
       Speaking at the city's public open house June 5, Chaves termed the intersection project a “priority for the city” that would be safer and smoother than the current four-way stop.
       The concept attracted pushback from some of the 75 open-house attendees (many of whom live in Pleasant Valley). 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.
       The city had no answer to that at the meeting, but Tim Roberts of City Traffic Engineering said a week afterward that he's since gained management approval to look into 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
A westbound vehicle on Westmoor Street crosses its bridge over 31st Street. The city is considering the removal of this bridge as part of its Camp Creek project plan.
Westside Pioneer photo
$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.
       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.
       The open house at Holmes Middle School presented three “refinements” (as City Engineering terms them) to the corridor plans for Pleasant Valley that had emerged from a consultant study and several public meetings in 2013-14.
       Two of these - the roundabout and a proposed extension of the pipe that currently carries Camp Creek's flow underground at Bijou Street - were unchanged from the way they'd been presented before the open house. (See Westside Pioneer article at this link.)
Colorado Springs Engineering Manager Mike Chaves answers a question during the Camp Creek corridor project open house.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The third refinement, related to Water Street in Pleasant Valley, was redefined at the event itself by Vancel Fossinger, project consultant with Wilson & Company. Still planned, he told the audience, are moving the current 31st Street bridge at Water Street north about half a block to discourage Water as a commuter-traffic cut-through and adding another traffic bridge a short distance to the south.
       What was different about what was presented at the open house was building that added bridge at 31st and Adams Drive. Before the meeting, it had been suggested at Pike Drive, but this would have put the bridge right in front of Howbert Elementary. School District 11 officials would prefer Adams because it's farther from Howbert's student drop-off zone, Fossinger explained after the meeting.
       On another traffic-bridge issue, the city asked open house attendees to fill out a comment form asking what they thought of eliminating the Westmoor Drive crossing at 31st Street. Like Water, Westmoor is used by commuters cutting between 30th and 31st; taking out the bridge would end that practice. Also, eliminating the Westmoor crossing, Fossinger said, would “maintain the same number of street traffic bridges with the 31st Street reconstruction project instead of increasing the count by 1.”
       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 the time delay - and about $50,000 expense to pay a consultant - were required to document the information under state and federal government historical regulations.
       Pleasant Valley attendees at the open house did not voice outright opposition to what was presented. However, in addition to the questions about 31st Street traffic congestion as a whole, several concerns were raised, such as:
  • The wisdom of reducing the number of Fontanero traffic lanes between 30th and 31st from two each way to one, especially when traffic there backs up already. But
    A slide at the Camp Creek open house outlines the steps the city plans to take on the corridor project, going forward.
    Westside Pioneer photo of Colorado Springs Engineering slide
    engineers believe the roundabout can handle it.
  • Also regarding the roundabout, how safe it will be for pedestrians, considering that traffic will no longer be stopping at the intersection. The city belief is that with two fewer lanes to cross, it will be safer.
  • Whether the the planned sediment pond is being designed bigger than needed - now that vegetation has had five years to grow back since the Waldo Canyon Fire. Fossinger replied that a re-evaluation is not needed.
  • The negative impact on Pleasant Valley by making it more difficult to use Water Street. Residents will be inconvenienced while commuters “will still zig-zag through,” one resident asserted.
  • Why the city can't take steps to discourage commuters from going through Pleasant Valley so much. Chaves said that engineers believe that over time the new, more efficient Cimarron/I-25 interchange will attract motorists who now cut through the neighborhood.
           City recommendations from the 2013-2014 Camp Creek study called for bridge replacements along the corridor, floodplain reduction measures, improved emergency access and a naturalized waterway through Pleasant Valley, with rock walls and landscaping replacing the current concrete slabs.

    Westside Pioneer article
    (Projects: Flood Control)

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