The timing couldn’t be better for Saturday’s annual Coffin Races in Manitou Springs, as several key road projects in the area have ended or are winding down.
But will the improvements make it easier for drivers to reach the race course, where more than 12,000 spectators will gather?
Jenna Gallas, the event’s organizer, thinks so.
“It’s going to be an immense help,” she said. “The last two years in particular have been really difficult in that Manitou Springs to Old Colorado City stretch. And now that it’s been repaired except for that tiny little piece on 31st, there’s going to be (fewer) backups.”
Workers have finished most of the Westside Avenue Action Project, a two-year improvement effort along Colorado Avenue between Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has completed extending the eastbound left-turn lane on U.S. 24 at 31st Street, and also has lengthened the westbound right-turn lane at that intersection.
Those are the three main routes used by drivers to reach Manitou Springs, especially for big events like the Coffin Races.
CDOT also has repaved stretches of U.S. 24 above the town and the upper section of Serpentine Drive, used by many drivers to enter from the west.
The timing of the road projects, however, may be a moot point because organizers are asking that spectators avoid trying to drive to the race course because of limited parking.
Still, project officials said the road upgrades will have some positive impacts because there will be few construction zones to navigate through.
Reta Ward and her family are visiting from Tennessee and said she’s ready for the crowd.
“We’ll probably go over and find out exactly where the parking area is and drive around, so that we’ll have our bearings for tomorrow,” she said.
Connie Calu lives in the area and said she stopped attending the event several years ago.
“It’s just gotten so busy, and so popular, that it’s hard to even walk from one block to another without taking 20 minutes to get through people,” she said. “It’s a good thing for Manitou but I don’t like crowds.”
Organizers ask visitors to use a shuttle bus to avoid traffic and parking hassles. For more information on that and the overall event, click HERE.
KRDO Only 2019