Dear Action Line: I have almost been run over multiple times at the pedestrian crosswalk on Camino del Rio near River City Hall/Backcountry Experience. Someone is going to die if people continue to run red lights there! The light may be hard to see or the angles may not be good, but there should be enforcement by the police department. The current situation is ridiculous. – Not yet ready to meet my maker.
Dear Maker: The intersection of Camino del Rio and 12th Street is controlled by what city consultants call an “alternative crossing treatment.” Instead of a traditional red/yellow/green lighting system, “alternatives” such as flashing lights, clicking noises, fireworks, interpretative dance, whatever, are activated when someone pushes the button.
Wide-eyed crossers then say their prayers and nervously look back and forth, watching for the inevitable car that doesn’t see the commotion and barrels past.
These crossing alternatives on Camino – at 12th and Seventh streets – are safer than just slapping down some crosswalk paint on the asphalt, but they are also the sites of most accidents between cars and pedestrians or bicyclists, according to the consultants.
The city of Durango has asked the Colorado Department of Transportation to install a regular traffic light, but CDOT said sorry, no can do; CDOT’s data show a standard traffic signal is not warranted. The city asked for a variance, but CDOT still said no. The state transportation department has final say on what type of signal is installed on Camino because the road is also a state highway.
Instead, CDOT plans to install a median on Camino in front of Backcountry Experience during summer 2021. The cable with the hanging lights will be removed and replaced with a pole that has lights attached to an arm extending over the road. Pedestrians and cyclists will still have to push a button to make the lights flash. Basically, Frogger 2.0.
In the meantime, the city is moving forward on designing a tunnel at 12th Street, but digging under Camino will be no small undertaking, according to the consultants. There is a 21-inch sewer line under Camino in the way, along with various electrical, water, cable and internet lines waiting to accidentally be cut by a wayward backhoe. There’s also some land that the city might have to purchase for a right of way.
Oh, said the consultants, and don’t forget about the radioactive waste from the old Smelter uranium mill that’s under Camino. That also has to be addressed. Back in the day, the tailings from the mill were viewed as good fill. Not so much anymore.
It is technically possible to build a pedestrian bridge over Camino, but CDOT requires it to be at least 20 feet over the road. To meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, this would require either two-story elevator or a ramp hundreds of feet long. The consultants did not recommend this option.
Bottom line: An underpass at 12th Street is estimated to cost $3 million to $4 million, minimum, which historically is the city’s entire street improvement budget for the year.
As for additional enforcement, Durango Police Chief Bob Brammer said his team has been directed to increase efforts in the area.
In the meantime, “CDOT urges drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to be careful at this location, as well as any crosswalk,” said Julie Constan, CDOT’s traffic and safety program manager.
Dear Action Line: A few large orange signs downtown state that the speed limit is 10 mph on Main Avenue, but traffic seems to zoom along at the old pace of about 30 mph. Even the Big Red Trolley is clipping right along. Is this intended to be a real speed limit or just one of those wink/wink kind of speed limits? – What’s the hurry?
Dear Hurry: It’s not a wink/wink speed limit; 10 mph is the real deal. Durango Police Department Chief Bob Brammer said the signs are posted, and enforceable. “We have our traffic officer working the area as well as many others throughout the city,” he said.
Dear Action Line: Did Durango School District 9-R ban saying the Pledge of Allegiance because of COVID-19? – Speak Up
Dear Speak: The school district did not ban the pledge because of COVID-19, said Julie Popp, the district’s spokeswoman.
“There is not a ban on the pledge by the district, and students are still saying the pledge in school; masks should prevent any concerns with the virus transmission in this instance,” she said.
Email questions and suggestions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Action Line is positive there are radioactive uranium tailings under Camino del Rio in front of Denny’s, because that’s where the satellite radio in the car always blanks out.
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