MONTROSE – The city’s three-point intersection of South Townsend Ave., South 12th St. and Columbia Way has come in second among CDOT Region 3’s “most problematic," but officials are hopeful that a low-cost remedy is coming soon.
Region 3,CDOT's largest region, extends from the Western Slope throughout the northwestern part of the state.
The problem is that the centerline of two side streets, South 12th and Columbia Way, does not align where they cross Townsend Ave., which is the city portion of U.S. Hwy 550.
South 12th St. is located on the east side of Townsend Ave.; Columbia Way is on its west side.
The report, a response to concerns voiced by city officials regarding the "safety and operational concerns pertaining to the poor visibility of the traffic signal, lack of northbound left-turn protected phase, and skewed alignment of the minor streets," found the alignment of the streets "unconventional” to a degree that “may cause confusion for drivers.
“It was observed that vehicles on 12th St. and Columbia Way hesitate as they enter the intersection, due to their uncertainty of where other drivers are going,” if states.
Realigning the streets to fit together is just one proposed solution. Another concern is the overhanging traffic signal (hung on a single span of wire) that was observed to blow in the wind to an angle that may impact drivers’ visibility.
"The majority of the rear-end accidents occurred on the northbound approach,” it stated, “which may be a result of visibility of the signal equipment as they travel around the curve. The 13 broadside accidents were evenly distributed amongst the four directions (with westbound having four). If drivers are not able to see the signal heads, then they may be running through the intersection on a red light without realizing it," the report concluded.
Long-term recommendations include installing new traffic signal equipment in conformance to CDOT standards; realigning 12th St. to match the centerline of Columbia Way by moving it to the north and aligning sidewalks on the north side of the minor streets,
The estimated cost in the report to make necessary improvements will be approximately $954,000.
Pronouncing that figure "hard to swallow," Montrose Community Development Director Kerwin Jensen said CDOT, which oversees state and federal highways, has encouraged the city apply to the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships, a federal trickle-down program for priority infrastructure projects, for a grant to fix the intersection.
Montrose would be tasked with coming up with 20 percent of the cost, according to RAMP specifications, or roughly $91,000.
"It a good project when you look for the bang of your buck," Jensen said. "A million dollar project, and we only have to invest 90,000 in cash.
Jensen said the application was submitted July 1.