Drive underway to stop Redlands roundabout
Steve and Darleen Gsell are looking for like-minded folks to join their fight against their most-hated intersection.
The Redlands residents have launched a campaign called Citizens Against the Redlands Roundabout, against the project planned next year for Redlands Parkway and Colorado Highway 340.
The Gsells have set up camp along Highway 340, in the front parking lot of the vacant Safeway building, to gather signatures on a petition against the roundabout project. The couple decided to take it to the streets after meeting with Colorado Department of Transportation officials and felt it was a “foregone conclusion,” Darleen said.
“So you think this is a stupid idea, too?” was the Gsells’ patent greeting for petition-signers who stopped by the parking lot.
The $3.5 million project to convert the traffic light intersection into a roundabout for continuous-flow traffic was funded with a federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant. CDOT said the intersection’s history of crashes qualified it for the project. There have been 28 crashes there in the past five years, and traffic engineers believe all but 10 of those crashes could have been prevented by a roundabout.
The project is scheduled to begin in fall 2017 and take approximately a year to complete.
The Gsells think the use of federal dollars for the project is wasteful, and some others agree with them.
“This is like, are we building a bridge to nowhere?” said Gerald Gigoux, who signed the petition last week.
“Don’t do it!” said Diane Mackenzie, who lives in Creekside subdivision, on Tuesday when she signed the petition. “I just don’t see the necessity for it.” Mackenzie moved to the Grand Valley after having experiences with traffic circles back East, and is not a fan.
Patrick Pruitt stopped to sign the petition on Tuesday. “It’s stupid,” the 38-year-old said. “I’d rather sit at a stoplight.”
The roundabout is the latest campaign the Gsells have taken on, as they have done from time to time during their 55 years living in the Grand Valley. Their most recent protest was against designating Colorado National Monument a national park, which did not happen.
They’ve found a willing group of allies against the roundabout, and have 18 others circulating petitions in the valley. The plan is to take all the petition signatures and present them to CDOT on Nov. 9, during a public meeting about the project. The petition “Stop the Redlands Roundabout” is also posted online at change.org.
Some residents said they’re tired of the construction on Highway 340 which has been going on for months between Grand Junction and Fruita.
“I have to go to work every day and I’m sick of the construction,” said Kelly Weeks, a teacher who lives on the Redlands. “It’s fine this way — it ain’t broke, let’s not fix it.” She got a flier in her mailbox about the petition and decided to stop and sign it. She’s tired of dealing with 35 mph speed limits and delays waiting for pilot cars through the work zones.
Others said they’re concerned about safety — the very problem the roundabout is supposed to address. The circular intersection without traffic signals might hinder a fire engine’s ability to maneuver through traffic, and the emergency vehicles coming from nearby Fire Station 5 is a concern, the Gsells said.
Major intersections in the valley are outfitted with Opticom technology that allows an approaching firetruck to control the traffic signals. This allows emergency vehicles to keep a green light longer to pass through an intersection or hold a red light to block traffic, according to Grand Junction Fire Department spokesman Dirk Clingman. Roundabouts promote continuous traffic and do not have signals.
The Fire Department does not have a concern about or an official position on the project, Clingman said.
Project opponents also worry it will be difficult for children walking to or from the elementary and middle schools to negotiate a roundabout without pedestrian signals, and they feel roundabouts are difficult to navigate and confusing for drivers.