Fix the intersection

For many motorists, driving from uptown to downtown has become rather challenging since the installation of the stoplight at 8th Street and U.S. 160 in 2012.

There is no doubt that some level of traffic control was needed at that intersection. Prior to the installation of the traffic light, accessing the highway from 8th Street was very difficult.

But, along with the stoplight, CDOT re-striped the highway and two lanes were squeezed into one lane by the elementary school, turn lanes were created, and if you travel that intersection often, you already know the rest of the story.

The first day of school found cars lined up as far as the eye could see up Put Hill.

School officials, along with engineers, worked to redesign their traffic pattern for school buses and student dropoffs, but it didn’t solve the problem.  The new alignment wasn’t perfect, but they did the best that they could.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been spotted making adjustments at the stoplight several times, to no avail.

When summer came, and school was no longer in session, the backups didn’t end.

The week before the Fourth of July became a traffic nightmare, taking motorists over 20 minutes to drive from City Market to downtown. Vehicles backed up from downtown to uptown.

One reader counted a line of 175 cars backed up on Put Hill during the holiday weekend. Some of us would have sworn there were even more.

Now traffic and construction trucks for Wal-Mart are backing up on 8th Street, blocking the library exit.

Many of us have become traffic experts, suggesting re-striping is in order. Others say the stoplight just needs another timing adjustment.

Town staff meets regularly with CDOT and, according to the town’s planner, James Dickhoff, “The 8th Street intersection traffic light function is a topic item every meeting as we contend it is still not providing an adequate level of service.”

Residents and tourists have been dealing with traffic delays for quite some time now.

Whatever is needed, it is time to fix this problem.

Labor Day weekend is fast approaching.

The first day of school is just around the corner.

This isn’t just a matter of tourists finding our town unpleasant to maneuver.

It isn’t just a matter of locals having to add 20 to 30 minutes to their daily commute.

This is a matter of public safety. There is definitely potential for worse consequences if emergency responders can’t maneuver through the traffic.

For example, if the fire department comes to a backup of traffic on Put Hill, they have to turn off their emergency lights and siren and sit in the traffic until they can safely pass on the left in the middle lane. Emergency responders can’t pass on the blind areas of the hill when they can’t see the oncoming traffic. Leaving their emergency lights and sirens on could create havoc and an unsafe situation by pushing traffic in the wrong direction, so they must turn them off.

Their response time is delayed. Valuable minutes are lost.

It is just a matter of time before someone’s emergency could be tragically affected by the current configuration at this intersection.

It’s time to fix this intersection before it is too late.

Terri Lynn Oldham House