EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) -- Identifying, studying and prioritizing safety improvements on local roads and highways is the goal of a safety audit and plan scheduled to begin shortly in El Paso County.
On Tuesday, county commissioners approved the hiring of a consultant to spend the next year analyzing existing data on crashes and fatalities along local roads and highways in unincorporated areas of the county.
The study will solicit public feedback on an interactive website that should be available in the coming weeks.
Jennifer Irvine, county engineer, said that by December 2021 the study should be finished and an action plan approved by commissioners.
"It's not just engineering," she said. "It's education, enforcement, engineering and working with our emergency services personnel. So we're going to develop a coalition, get some public input and develop a local road safety plan."
The plan will include not only specific safety improvement projects but also public education and enforcement along certain areas.
Irvine said the county's goal mirrors a national strategy of a Toward Zero Deaths policy to eliminate serious traffic injuries and deaths.
Many crashes and fatalities, she said, are caused by factors such as speeding or texting while driving.
Not covered in the study are major highways such as Interstate 25 and U.S. 24, which are under the Colorado Department of Transportation 's jurisdiction -- also Irvine said the county already works with the state to improve safety in those areas.
More likely to be included in the study are areas such as the intersection of Ellicott Highway and Judge Orr Road, which has been the site of numerous crashes and several fatalities in recent years.
The county acquired a $300,000 grant from CDOT to pay for the study, and was required to pay 10% of that amount.
Leif Olson, who has lived along a county road for 10 years, has seen many crashes in the area, and last year had a driver who fell asleep crash through his fence and nearly hit his home.
"It's absolutely an example of what the county needs to do," he said. "It's a sigh of relief that they're actually going to do something about it.