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Neighbors, drivers adjust to traffic changes on Cheyenne Boulevard in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Along with ongoing sidewalk improvements, Cheyenne Boulevard in southwest Colorado Springs is the site of two other projects that have changed traffic patterns and required adjustment by nearby residents and drivers.

A Colorado Springs Utilities project to replace two existing natural gas lines started three weeks ago, just east of the 8th Street intersection; work is currently affecting traffic there and closed several intersections into neighborhoods.

"Southbound drivers on 8th Street can't turn left to go eastbound on Cheyenne," said Brian Merritt, project supervisor. "Drivers on Cheyenne Road can't turn north on 8th Street. That alignment began last week and will continue through the end of next week."

Sparks flew from a welder's torch as he worked on a gas line in an underground trench.

Construction has reduced traffic on Cheyenne Boulevard to a lane in each direction east of the 8th Street intersection; it has made some drivers impatient and led them to drive too fast, honk their horns at drivers ahead of them and cut through neighborhoods to avoid the congestion.

The gas line upgrades will stretch less than a mile to the west, from 8th Street to Cresta Road; the project will continue through the end of the year.

The utility work and sidewalk upgrades will prepare Cheyenne Boulevard and Cheyenne Road for repaving next year under the city's 2C expanded paving program.

Meanwhile, a few blocks east of that project, a traffic study at the intersection of Cheyenne Boulevard and Lorraine Street has become controversial.

Last year, the city installed two stop signs with flashing red lights on the Cheyenne side -- making the intersection a four-way stop for the first time.

Many drivers, still accustomed to the change, pass through the intersection without stopping -- often while speeding.

What has produced the most disagreement, however, are the installation of yellow and white stick-like markers called delineators beside the stop signs on Cheyenne.

Ryan Phipps, the project manager, said that the delineators and stop signs are temporary and allow the city to study -- based on citizen feedback -- whether they can slow traffic down to increase safety for pedestrians.

"The yellow is the pedestrian refuge," he explained. "It gives someone trying to cross the street, the ability to cross one direction of traffic, have a refuge and then cross the other direction of traffic, rather than trying to do it all at once."

The white delineators serve as outlines for future concrete "bump-outs" of the curbs at the intersection designed to shorten the distance pedestrians have to walk.

Phipps said that no decision has been made about to building concrete structures in the median.

Jim Bensberg, a former El Paso County commissioner, lives in the neighborhood and said that the delineators actually cause accidents because drivers are unfamiliar with them and confused by them.

"(Monday) there was a multi-car, chain-reaction crash at the intersection because of those delineators," he said. "Many of the neighbors didn't know they were going to be installed and had no say in the decision."

Bensberg expressed his concern to the City Council Tuesday.

"The mayor said that he wants to meet with us (opponents), so I'm glad to hear that," he said.

Late Tuesday morning, there were some surprise changes to the delineators. For the full story, watch The Road Warrior's report Wednesday on Good Morning Colorado, on KRDO 13.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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