About the Study
Current transportation infrastructure does not provide the pleasant, residential environment residents have expressed that they want to maintain for this neighborhood. The City evaluated public feedback and examined the viability of several proposed infrastructure changes in an effort to maintain a neighborhood feel while managing current and future traffic demands. Additionally, changes to be implemented must be in line with the Experience Downtown Master Plan and will address:
- Neighborhood concerns for maintaining historic look and feel of the neighborhood
- Limited parking available for students of Colorado College and local residents
- Safety concerns for pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists.
- Traffic congestion and noise
This study identified transportation recommendations within the boundaries of Wood Avenue to the West, Wahsatch Avenue to the East, Van Buren Street to the North and Platte Avenue Street to the South.
Residents participated in a series of four public meetings in 2017 and 2018 to identify transportation challenges in these neighborhoods and review options to create a more pleasant residential neighborhood while accommodating existing and future traffic. The City announced the initial phase of their plan in January 2018 and has implemented several changes in phases as outlined in the “Traffic Improvements” tab.
Several traffic improvements are underway in the Old/Near North End neighborhoods following a series of public meetings designed to address transportation and safety concerns expressed by residents.
The following actions will be implemented to enhance safety for all roadway users (pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists) and were developed using engineering best practices combined with public input.
Current as of Feb. 2019.
Reduce speed limit
To address residents’ concerns about unsafe speeds in residential areas, traffic engineering proposed the following:
- Speed limits for arterial streets will be reduced from 35 to 30 mph (Nevada, Cascade, Weber, Uintah, Wahsatch and Fontanero)
- Speed limits for local streets will remain 25 mph (Wood and Tejon)
New speed limit signs were posted. In addition to reducing the speed limits throughout the area, the City will continue to review engineering best practices that can be implemented to redesign the roadways to encourage motorists to drive the new speed limit, thereby increasing safety for all roadway users and better managing traffic flow.
Install Bicycle Infrastructure
The need for north/south and east/west bicycle connections throughout the neighborhood and into downtown was identified through public input and cited in the Experience Downtown Master Plan. At the January 2018 pedestrian safety and bicycle infrastructure meeting, residents provided input on options for locations for future bicycle infrastructure in the neighborhoods and modifications to pedestrian crossings on Cascade Avenue.
New traffic configuration to improve pedestrian safety, traffic flow and provide bike connection
Cascade Avenue has been restriped with one through lane, a buffered bike lane, and parking in each direction between Boulder and Jackson streets. This design change will improve pedestrian safety and provide an important bike facility that connects with downtown.
With the changes listed above, Colorado College reduced the number of crosswalks on Cascade from four crosswalks with flashing lights to two standard crosswalks, and implement a pedestrian safety program for students and staff.
Reducing travel lanes to one in each direction facilitates a safer crossing with less delay for drivers using standard crosswalks as opposed to replacing the flashing automated crosswalks with the pedestrian activated mid-intersection street lights required for streets with four travel lanes (as recently installed on Nevada Avenue south of Uintah).
Cascade Avenue was residents’ preferred choice for bicycle facilities in that it addresses pedestrian safety concerns and provides a connection to existing downtown bike infrastructure. Residents favored removing a travel lane over parking spaces with the installation of a bike lane.
The City is also planning a redesign of the Cascade Avenue/Uintah Street intersection that will include a better alignment for right turns. Timeline: Summer 2019
Remove truck route
To address concerns about heavy truck traffic and noise on residential streets, traffic engineering removed the designated truck route on Nevada Avenue to prevent them from using this and neighboring streets without a delivery destination in the area. Change of designated truck routes must be presented to the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB), Truck Route Committee and to City Council for final approval. Anticipated timeline for approval is Spring 2018.
Update (Feb 2019): The truck committee will reconvene in 2019 at which time the truck routes on Nevada Ave will be discussed.
Increase sight distance for turning vehicles
Many residents have expressed concern that vehicles have limited sight distance for turning onto Nevada Avenue. To respond to this concern, the sight distances will be increased as appropriate at intersections between Lilac Street and Cache la Poudre.
Traffic Engineering has recommended that the Nevada bus move to Weber Street. This will place both north/south buses on Weber Street which will facilitate regular buses along Weber Street every 15 minutes and reduce traffic congestion along Nevada. Additionally, bikes and buses make a good combination because of the frequent use of both modes together to complete a trip. The bike lane also provides a wider drop off lane for buses to keep them out of an active traffic lane.
To improve safety and reduce congestion caused by left-turning vehicles, the inside travel lane of westbound Uintah Street between Corona and Weber streets will be restriped to create a center left-turn lane. The center turn lane will provide safe access to Corona Street, Wahsatch Avenue and Weber Avenue and their mid-block alleyways. Restriping is scheduled to take place mid-September 2018.
Weber Street Restriping
Weber Street between Colorado Avenue and Jackson Street will be restriped to accommodate two through lanes of travel with a center left turn lane, bike lanes and parking. This section of Weber Street will be striped with bike lanes next to the travel lane as the number of driveways does not accommodate a parking-protected design. Timeline: TBD in conjunction with future repaving by 2020.
As with Cascade Avenue, data and traffic counts for Weber show that travel times may only experience a minimal delay with the traffic changes and should not cause traffic diversion. However, we will be collecting new traffic volume and speed counts throughout the neighborhood for regular review and analysis.
Mountain Metropolitan Transit’s consistent position has been to consider the Traffic Engineering recommendation to move the Nevada bus route to Weber Street as part of the upcoming North Nevada Avenue Transit Corridor Analysis, before making bus routing changes. Any information from Traffic Engineering saying otherwise was inadvertently incorrect.
In conjunction with maintenance work Fontanero Street between Cascade Street and El Paso/Paseo Road will be restriped to provide an east/west bicycle connection and a center turn lane. This roadway will convert from two travel lanes in each direction to one travel lane in each direction with a center turn lane and bicycle lanes. The new center turn lane will provide a separate space for turning vehicles to facilitate through-traffic.
Fontanero Street was identified as a street to install bicycle infrastructure during the transportation study meetings and is cited in both the Experience Downtown Master Plan and Bicycle Master Plan as key east/west bicycle corridor.
Transportation Study Meeting #4
A fourth meeting held April 4 addressed traffic concerns along Nevada Avenue between Platte Avenue and Van Buren Street. Traffic Engineering gathered public input and presented several options to address traffic concerns already expressed by residents during the traffic study.
Transportation Study Meeting #3
A third meeting held Jan. 18 addressed pedestrian safety and bike routes. Traffic Engineering presented several options for public input in an effort to enhance pedestrian safety and provide additional bicycle infrastructure for the neighborhood.
Transportation Study Meeting #2
On December 7, 2017, residents of the Old and Near North End neighborhoods and general public met to learn about feedback provided by the community during the initial transportation meeting and were presented information about both immediate actions that could be taken to address neighborhood safety, noise and traffic concerns and next steps for evaluating and addressing citizen input on pedestrian safety, parking and bicycle infrastructure.
Transportation Study Meeting #1
On August 14 and 16, 2017, residents of the Old and Near North End neighborhoods and general public attended two identical meetings to provide feedback on challenges and opportunities related to transportation infrastructure for the neighborhood as a whole. Participants had an opportunity to provide input on three of the following corridors included in the study to provide input: Wood, Cascade, Tejon, Nevada, Weber, Wahsatch, Uintah and Fontanero. Input was gathered on pedestrian, bicycle infrastructure, parking, traffic flow, public transportation, speed and noise enforcement, and safety.
In fall 2018, the North Nevada Avenue Transit Corridor Analysis will commence. This project will identify, among other tasks, the preferred alignment, transit technology alternative, and level of service for the North Nevada Avenue corridor. Also assessed is how transit will transition into the area south of Fillmore Street; existing conditions of transit in the corridor; current and future needs; and recommendations for near-, mid-, and long-term implementation of the preferred alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
General Transportation Study Questions
Q: Why is the City conducting this transportation study?
A: A transportation study was initiated to address traffic safety and transportation concerns in the Near and Old North End neighborhoods that would help maintain the neighborhood feel of this historic area while accommodating for current and future traffic.
Q: What changes will be made from the study?
A: The City has conducted an extensive public process in the neighborhood to identify challenges and possible solutions to address traffic concerns. Several improvements are taking place this spring, with others slated to take place in conjunction with upcoming roadway projects, such as installing bike lanes on Weber Street with repaving. Click here for more information about project details and timelines.
Q: Why are the projects being implemented in phases, not all at once?
A: Several of the projects, such as reducing the speed limits, can be done rather quickly and at minimal cost. Projects that involve roadway reconfiguration that only require a change in striping can be implemented in Spring 2018, such as changes to Cascade Avenue and the addition of a center turn lane on a portion of Uintah Street. For the most efficient use of funds, some projects, such as restriping a portion of Weber Street, will be timed with upcoming repaving efforts. More detailed projects that require construction will need to be funded before they commence.
Q: Will parking in the North End be impacted?
A: None of the upcoming projects will impact parking. Parking on Cascade, Uintah, Weber and Fontanero will not be impacted substantially. Parking is a valuable commodity in the neighborhood, which was shown by 90 percent of meeting attendees favoring to remove a travel lane on Cascade Avenue over removing parking. Upcoming transportation study public meetings will focus on parking concerns, especially near Penrose Hospital, Colorado College and other areas identified through this public meeting process.
Q: Were traffic volumes for peak hours considered in the plan?
A: Yes, as well as traffic delays. Historic counts will be compared to future annual counts to identify changes in travel patterns that may need to be addressed.
Q: What changes, if any will be made to Mountain Metro Transit routes?
A: The City Traffic Engineering Division will meet with Mountain Metro Transit in spring 2018 to evaluate current transit routes in the Near/Old North End neighborhoods to see if any changes should be considered.
Safety Improvements to Cascade Avenue
A: Safety has long been a concern for the Old/Near North End neighborhoods, not only for the safety of Colorado College students but for everyone. A history of pedestrian accidents on Cascade near Colorado College has brought the issue of safety along this corridor to the City’s attention.
Two options considered were:
- Four travel lanes with a pedestrian activated signals
- Two travel lanes with a standard crosswalk
Four travel lanes with a pedestrian activated signals
To address pedestrian safety while maintaining four travel lanes on Cascade would require the installation of pedestrian-activated signals, similar to the one installed on Nevada Avenue just south of Uintah Street. With pedestrian-activated signals, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the signal stop vehicles in all travel lanes for a length of time that allows a pedestrian to completely clear the intersection walking at a speed of 3.2 mph. Traffic modeling suggests that the time allowed for pedestrian crossings would delay travel on average 85 seconds during non-peak and 101 seconds during peak hours.
Two travel lanes with a standard crosswalk
A majority of the pedestrian accidents involved an already stopped vehicle that was blocking the view of a pedestrian entering the crosswalk as a second vehicle approached. Reducing Cascade to one travel lane in each direction would improve pedestrian safety by providing a clear view of crossing pedestrians.
Reducing Cascade to two travel lanes would allow the City to install a standard crosswalk that would create an estimated average delay of 67 seconds during non-peak, and 81 during peak hours.
Installing a standard crosswalk, which is appropriate for a two-lane street, would encourage pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists to be more aware of their surroundings and to be on the lookout for other roadway users.
Cascade was the preferred choice by residents for adding bicycle facilities in that it both addresses pedestrian safety concerns and provides a connection to existing downtown bike infrastructure. Many residents voiced a need for more bicycle connections in their neighborhood (and to downtown) and replacing a travel lane with a bike lane on Cascade will promote greater safety for all users on that corridor.
Residents preferred the two-lane option by a margin of 3 to 1.
Q: Why are the flashing lights being replaced?
A: Colorado College will remove the four flashing crosswalks this spring as they cause unneeded delays for vehicles and encourage pedestrians to cross the street without looking for oncoming traffic.
Q: What safety/education measures will be put into place to help pedestrians?
A: With the removal of the flashing crosswalks along Cascade between Cache la Poudre and Uintah, Colorado College is implementing a pedestrian safety campaign for students and faculty.
Over time, the flashing crosswalks have created a false sense of security for pedestrians and increased their dependence on the automatically flashing lights as they enter the crosswalk. Conversely, because the lights flash after the pedestrian has left the intersection, motorists often see an empty crosswalk with flashing lights that diminishes the meaning of those flashing lights.
Installing standard crosswalks will place the responsibility both back on the motorists to be on the lookout for crossing pedestrians and on the pedestrians to properly use the crosswalks.
Q: Why not build an overpass/underpass at Colorado College to keep pedestrians safe?
A: A grade-separated crossing will only work if students are prevented from crossing Cascade Avenue. This would require extensive changes to the Colorado Campus and Cascade medians to make a structured crossing fully used. It would also require long ramps to make it ADA accessible. These changes would substantially alter the Colorado College campus and Cascade Avenue median. The result would be an isolated and divided campus with speeding traffic through the North End Neighborhood and low pedestrian usage.
Q: Will this project increase traffic on other local streets in the North End?
A: Current traffic volumes on Cascade Avenue are well within the capacity of a two-lane roadway, serving approximately 11,000 vehicles per day. Traffic studies show that reducing Cascade to two travel lanes will not cause significant traffic delays. Only a 1 second per vehicle increase in travel time is expected at the intersection of Uintah Street and Cascade Avenue.
Converting Cascade to two travel lanes with bike lanes should encourage motorists to drive the speed limit allowing it to serve as a traditional neighborhood street it is meant to be.
The City will implement several changes in the North End to enhance traffic operations along Fontanero and Uintah, and will conduct future public meetings to evaluate possible solutions for traffic concerns on Nevada Avenue. Together, these changes should keep traffic from diverting onto other streets. There will likely be some increased traffic during the transition period, but this should level out as drivers recognize this as a roadway for neighborhood traffic, not commuters. The project will include before and after traffic counts at all north/south streets in the Old/Near North End neighborhoods so any unexpected increases in traffic can be identified and addressed.
Q: Will traffic back-up at signalized intersections?
A: Traffic Engineering does not anticipate substantial back up at intersections. A small amount of increased delay can be expected at most signalized intersections, (between 1 and 7 seconds per vehicle). There will be little if any change in the level of service. Although there may be a slight increase in traffic diversion to Nevada and Wahsatch avenues, both streets are well within their capacity. Additionally, a next phase of the transportation study involves working with residents along Nevada to address any traffic and transportation concerns and help facilitate a smooth transition as the roadway modifications are implemented.
Q: Will reducing Cascade to two travel lanes, increase congestion to accommodate people making left turns?
No. Only the northbound left turn lane at Uintah Street has a critical length and it can be extending with the new striping plan. Other left turns from Cascade Avenue have adequate left turn boxes to accommodate the number of left-turning vehicles and should not delay through traffic.
Q: Don’t changes to Cascade Avenue require City Council or Planning Commission approval?
A: While under the Colorado College Development Master Plan any changes to the cross-section of Cascade Avenue requested by the college must go before City Council, the City does not require such approval as it is not being done as a request to change the master plan, but through a transportation study conducted by City staff that included public involvement.
Q: How were these meetings publicized?
A: Public notice for the transportation study meetings is conducted through several means including news releases, Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor.com, direct emails to area HOAs and to past meeting participants, and posting meeting information on www.ColoradoSprings.gov. Anyone interested in being added to the email distribution list for future meeting notifications may send an email with contact information to TraffEng@springsgov.com.
Q: Why is the City installing bike lanes as part of the study?
A: The need for north/south and east/west bicycle connections throughout the neighborhood and into downtown was identified both through public input during this study and cited in the Experience Downtown Master Plan. The City is working to provide transportation options for all roadway users and to provide many of the basic infrastructure needs to improve the quality of life for current residents to attract and maintain a vibrant workforce in Colorado Springs.
The January transportation meeting focused on pedestrian safety and bicycle infrastructure in which residents discussed criteria for pedestrian safety and had an opportunity to provide input on options for locations for north/south and east/west corridors for future bicycle infrastructure in the neighborhoods based on bike infrastructure criteria. Click here for project details.
Q: What are the criteria for bike infrastructure in the Near/Old North End?
A: When determining the most appropriate streets to install bicycle infrastructure, several issues were considered in an effort to provide safer and more utilized bike infrastructure:
- Controlled crossing at intersections so people on bikes don’t get stuck at a busy intersection and are unable to cross without the help of a traffic signal.
- The most direct route feasible that connects to existing infrastructure
- Both on and off-street bike infrastructure that connects to destinations
- Both east/west and north/south bike routes that connect to other routes in the neighborhood and to downtown.
- Streets that provided enough room to accommodate bike infrastructure and met the federal requirements for bike infrastructure.
Q: We don’t see many bicyclists on the road now. How many bicyclists will be using these new bike lanes?
A: In the development of numerous City plans, such as PlanCOS, Pikes Peak Regional Non-Motorized Transportation Study, Experience Downtown Master Plan and more, residents say they want more bike and improved facilities that would provide safer connections to their destinations. People want choices in how they get around this city. Additionally, Colorado Springs residents who do not or cannot drive, or who lack access to vehicles also deserve safe mobility options.
The City of Colorado Springs has limited data on bike use overall, with past counts occurring primarily on the trail network. The City is currently developing a more robust data collection and analysis program, which will include on-street bicycle riders. It can take time for bicyclists to begin using new infrastructure, especially if there are limited connections. The more connected bike infrastructure that can carry a person to their destination, and the safer that people feel on that network, the more the infrastructure will be used.
Bicycle riders are already using Cascade, as can be seen from this heat map of Strava users.
Currently, the riders share space with cars, at a slower pace and vehicles must go around them. When people on bicycles are given their own space on the roadway, vehicle users do not need to maneuver around them, making the movements safer and more efficient for everyone.
Q: Why are bicycles allowed to ride on streets, especially if they don’t obey traffic laws?
A: All roadway users must obey the traffic laws and bicycles are allowed to use on-street infrastructure under Colorado law. Roads should be designed to accommodate all legal forms of travel. However, data supports that having a separate lane significantly cuts down on the number of cyclist emergency room visits. In fact, protected bike lanes – those with barriers dividing cyclists from vehicles – cut the injury rate significantly. Accidents happen, but research illustrates that city streets with bike lanes reduce the rate of cyclist injury by 50 percent.
Despite the extensive trail system already developed in Colorado Springs and plans for its expansion, the greatest opportunity for developing a connected network of comfortable bicycle facilities is through on-street facilities. While opportunities to develop and improve trails should continue to be pursued, financial and other constraints point to the importance of existing rights-of-way for the development of a connected, low-stress bicycling network. On-street bicycle networks also provide more direct access to destinations as compared to trails.