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Local businesses concerned over planned roundabout, neighbors fed up with commercial traffic

Posted at 8:27 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 23:16:17-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Local businesses are raising concerns over a planned roundabout in a west Colorado Springs neighborhood. But some neighbors are fed up with the commercial traffic, and pushing for it to be installed.

"In 2016, I was starting a family out here with these little guys and traffic was just flying by and it wasn't part of this neighborhood. So I called city streets, Erin Percival, and I asked her to do some traffic surveys and that's how it started," said Ariel Dickens.

He says traffic on 7th and Cucharras is terrible and dangerous for his two young sons.

"A lot of them are larger vehicles so when they are speeding down, it's not like they can stop on a dime. Other people use this as a byway from Colorado Avenue, and we can't stop that," said Dickens.

Cars speeding, cut-through traffic, and large commercial traffic impacting the tight-knit neighborhood.

"It's these giant trucks that wake up our babies which can't fly. Cars flying down the road, that happens on any street, but there is no need to have 750 cars on one block per day. Most of them being multi-axel," said Dickens.

Prompting them to get together and go to the city for a solution.

"We're getting a roundabout put down at the end of the street which we felt allowed civilian traffic, would decrease tow truck traffic and other large vehicles. This is a small little community, the entire street wants this to happen. We don't think we're inconveniencing commercial properties down the street. We are allowing a roundabout and they have commercial access. We have a sign at the end of the street that says no trucks, and there are trucks all day long," said Dickens.

But local business owners argue the roundabout will make it hard for their delivery trucks.

"We get semi loads, one to two semi loads a week, one of which is our feed delivery. We get a feed delivery of four to six tons of feed and there is just no way for them to park on Colorado Avenue period, much less safely unload with a forklift. The only place for them to pull in is by heading south on 7th street," said Allison Buckley, Owner of Buckley's Homestead Supply.

If a roundabout is placed at the end of the street, Buckley says her delivery drivers will have no way to exit.

"They can't back out onto Colorado Avenue, they have to pull through and get out on Cucharras. That would be the end of the lifeblood that we do, all of the feed that's in the back room," said Buckley.

Buckley says she emailed the city with her concerns, and the impact it could have on the businesses in the area.

"Bill's Tool Rental is on the corner and they rent large machinery like forklifts and whatnot that need to leave on flatbeds so it would restrict their ability to get their product out to people that purchase it. There's also a collision service there that uses large tow trucks that would be restricted by the roundabout," said Buckley. "I've done some research and there are 19 homes on that block, and I found out that Bills has been in business there for 40 or 50 years so they were in existence long before these people purchased homes."

Buckley says she would have appreciated more communication from the city regarding the roundabout.

"I would have appreciated if we had been involved with the conversation from the start. We are obviously a stakeholder in this and we haven't been invited to any of the meetings that have transpired. Everything I've heard has come directly from the grapevine, and not from my city," said Buckley.

The City of Colorado Springs says the roundabout is expected to be completed this year. The roundabout will be single lane and designed to prevent large trucks from going through the area.

"It is a single lane roundabout and they are one of the safest ways to address traffic operations in intersections. So we're looking at that and it will have a truck apron, and as part of the deterrence for larger vehicles it will have a special design on the east leg to help prevent large trucks from navigating around that roundabout," said Tim Roberts, Principal Transportation Planner for the City of Colorado Springs.

He says it all started back in 2018 when residents in the area reached out with concerns over cars speeding, cut-through traffic, and large commercial vehicles.

"We initiated a data collecting process, and in that process, we collected traffic accounts, speed data, and vehicle classification. In that analysis, we found that speeding wasn't a problem and the traffic volume wasn't out of normal for that type of roadway but the number of trucks was quite high," said Roberts.

He says 66 large trucks were traveling on the roadway in a day, out of 500 vehicles.

"That's a high percentage for a residential neighborhood and that's why the city did a process to figure out why we can do and how we can address the problem. It wasn't a speeding issue or a volume issue, it was the larger trucks," said Roberts.

He says the most extreme solution was closing Cucharras street to the part of the neighborhood, but businesses reached out to the city with concerns.

"That their customers couldn't access the businesses, their employees use the road, since it's not a volume problem is there a way to just target the trucks. Through that process, we came up with this compromise of a roundabout," said Roberts. "Unfortunately with this compromise, there are some businesses that are serviced off Colorado Avenue that this may affect some of their delivery options. That's something we have to look at when we design the roundabout."

During the public meetings with some of the businesses, Roberts says they discussed alternative options for larger trucks.

"Using Walnut Street and Chesnut Street, there's still the ability for larger trucks and delivery trucks to use those roadways but accessed off of Colorado Avenue," said Roberts.

Generally, Roberts says the city wants large trucks to be on the larger roadways.

"That means large trucks need to be on 8th Street and Colorado Avenue, not on the smaller streets like 7th street which is more residential in character," said Roberts.

He says the city hasn't had direct communication with Buckleys Homestead Supply but they should have been involved with the conversations.

"I would like to see all of the businesses because what is a solution for me might not be a solution for Bill and Gary's. So I would like everyone at the table to be able to talk this out, instead of meetings happening without the stakeholders," said Buckley.

"Civil process is slow, everyone wants to be heard, I understand that and respect that but I thought we were done with the public process at this point. Meetings after meetings, how many meetings do you need to have," said Dickens.

The city hopes to work with Buckley's Homestead Supply and other businesses who may rely on the road.