Colorado Springs wants to turn Platte Avenue into a one-way street. Neighbors resist.

Residents of the Middle Shooks Run neighborhood east of downtown Colorado Springs are opposing a plan to make parts of Platte Avenue and Boulder Street one-way.

The proposed changes are part of a larger redevelopment of Platte Avenue, which the city says is intended to help accommodate Colorado Springs’ expected growth. The goal is to better align each section of the six-mile Platte Avenue Corridor with the neighborhoods it passes through.

Middle Shooks Run could see some of the most transformative changes under the proposal, with Platte and Boulder becoming one-way streets through the neighborhood.

Under the proposal, Platte Avenue would run east while Boulder Street would run west between Wahsatch Avenue and the junction of Platte and Boulder. The streets are currently two-way and run mostly parallel to each other until they meet in the Knob Hill neighborhood. The plan would also make the two streets narrower by reducing traffic lanes from four to two and adding lanes for buses and bicycles.

At a meeting last week hosted by the Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association, city officials and the project’s consulting team fielded dozens of questions and comments from a packed house of Switchback Coffee residents. roasters. Most of them were opposed to the plan.

Will Taylor/KRCC
A packed house at Switchback Coffee Roasters for a recent Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association meeting discussing plans to redesign Platte Avenue as a one-way street.

One of the main issues raised was fears that the one-way verse would increase speeds on side streets and down alleys in residential neighborhoods.

“We’re very reluctant to let anything become what looks like a highway split our neighborhood in two,” said local resident Brit Ullrich.

The city said it is still looking for ways to keep people from speeding down what they call “ladder streets,” small residential streets that run north to south, connecting Platte and Boulder.

“It’s one of those things that we’re going to have to really dig into to mitigate the impact on some of these side streets,” said Ted Ritschard, technical lead for the project’s consultancy team. “Drivers are like water, they take the easiest path.”

Another major concern is Memorial Hospital. The hospital is located on Boulder Street, and under the current proposal, Boulder Street would only run westbound past Memorial.

Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association president Cheryl Downey declined to be interviewed, but helped organize the open house. When she asked the room if anyone had concerns about the hospital, almost everyone in the crowded cafe raised their hands.

Will Taylor/KRCC
Middle Shooks Run Neighborhood Association sign outside Switchback Coffee Roasters where community members recently met to discuss a plan to redevelop Platte Avenue as a one-way street.

Chris Merrick, a doctor at Memorial Hospital and a resident of Middle Shooks Run, voiced his neighbors’ concerns. Merrrick said Memorial is one of the busiest hospitals in the city, receiving ambulance traffic from areas well beyond the city limits. He said he was concerned that the proposed change in traffic patterns would have a detrimental effect on ambulance routes. He also said he believed the hospital’s contribution was largely unknown to the city, although he was speaking as a private citizen.

“I think (it) reflects the priorities (of the city) in carrying out the project. It doesn’t reflect their priorities to make it a better community, a safer community,” he said.

City Engineer Aaron Egbert said the proposal will increase access to the hospital from all directions except the west. Interstate 25, downtown Colorado Springs, and the Middle Shooks Run neighborhood are all west of Memorial Hospital and constitute much of the ambulance traffic heading to the facility.

City officials said increased access to the hospital will also be associated with increased security in the hallway. Ritschard said the plan will reduce crossing times for pedestrians and provide the opportunity to repair decaying infrastructure.

District 5 Councilwoman Nancy Henjum was present at the meeting and said the main concern she heard from the community was safety and whether or not this project would make their neighborhoods more sure. District 5 includes part of the Middle Shooks Run neighborhood.

“It’s a priority, whether it’s the hospital or the children crossing the street or the cyclists,” she said. “At the end of the day, people want to feel as safe as possible.”

John Marshall, an engineer who lives on Platte, acknowledged there were safety issues in the hallway, but wondered if a one-sided verse is the best plan to combat some of those issues.

Will Taylor/KRCC
A view of Boulder Street from the intersection of Boulder and Institute streets. Community members are opposing a proposal to make parts of Platte Avenue and Boulder Street one-way.

“People drive very fast and that’s a big problem that needs to be addressed,” he said. “But the way to solve it is not just a one-way couplet. It’s not just about redrawing the road. It is much more complete than that.“

Marshall said if the project made sense for the future of Colorado Springs, he was fine with it, but wondered if there might be other, more cost-effective ways to redesign the corridor. He suggested repairing and maintaining the infrastructure the city already has as a cheap and efficient alternative to a complete overhaul.

At a city council business meeting on Monday, Deputy Director of Public Works Gayle Sturdivant told council members the city would focus on needed repairs to Platte Avenue in the short term. She said great attention has been paid to transformational changes such as the one-way verse, while essential repairs to bridges and intersections have yet to be completed.

Focusing on incremental repairs will give the city time to hear more feedback from neighborhood residents, Sturdivant said. She added that the city hopes to present a proposal for more transformative changes to the corridor before city council by the end of this year or early 2023.

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