(UPDATE: Sept. 15)
Colorado Springs officials have installed three gates at an intersection known for flash flooding and rescuing drivers who get trapped in high water.
Workers installed the gates — similar to those at city parks — last Tuesday at the intersection of Siferd Boulevard and Date Street, just east of the intersection of Academy Boulevard and Austin Bluffs Parkway.
A local fire station will be responsible for closing the gates to keep vehicles out of the intersection during the threat of flooding, and reopening them after the threat has passed.
Workers had planned to install the gates during the first week in August but encountered unspecified delays.
The gates were a joint project involving the city, the city Fire Department and El Paso County.
(PREVIOUS STORY: July 30)
The plan to lower flash flooding risks at a Colorado Springs-area intersection moved closer to fruition on two fronts Tuesday.
The intersection of Siferd Boulevard and Date Street has long been one of the area’s most flood-prone areas, blocking traffic and threatening homes and businesses.
On Tuesday, officials said they will start installing three gates next week to keep traffic out during floods. It’s a project we first reported last month.
The gates are similar to those at the entrances of many local parks.
Workers surveyed the three-way intersection Tuesday in preparation for the project, intending to decrease flooding from a drainage channel on both sides of Siferd Boulevard.
The drainage flows over Siferd — often at high velocity and several feet deep — during heavy rainfall.
Earlier Tuesday, El Paso County commissioners voted to allow Colorado Springs to take charge of the project. A small part of the intersection is within county jurisdiction.
A city official said a nearby fire station likely will be responsible for closing and opening the gates as needed.
The situation has been frustrating for drivers. On Tuesday, someone knocked down and even manually moved traffic cones that blocked the intersection.
There was no flooding and no one directing traffic, so many drivers proceeded through without knowing if they were legally allowed to do so.
A local businessman has mixed feelings about the project.
“I want to see a safer intersection, sure,” he said. “I’ve had to pull people out of floodwaters there. But when they put closure signs up a block away from the actual intersection, that blocks access to my business. I don’t think they can legally do that.”
Last month, a city official said a permanent solution for the intersection — which could involve acquiring vacant lots, relocating utility lines, improving drainage for water to flow under the road and closing the intersection entirely — will cost at least $20 million.
But resident Mark Sullivan is glad to see something being done.
“That intersection has not changed, been upgraded, or even addressed since (my family) lived there in 1970,” he said.
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