No quick fix on Horizon

Businesses want improved safety, but cash tight

Players on the Ogden Raptors baseball team dodge traffic as they race across Horizon Drive Tuesday on their way to lunch at Denny’s Restaurant from the DoubleTree Hotel where they were staying.



It’s been more than two years since officials from the Horizon Drive Business Improvement District pleaded with Grand Junction officials for more safety measures along the route.

Board President Jay Moss and Executive Director Vara Kusal approached the Grand Junction City Council again during a workshop Tuesday night, seeking some lighted crosswalks along the roadway where three pedestrians have been killed crossing the road in the past seven years.

Moss explained that the three people who died were tourists, trying to cross the five-lane, city-owned roadway. The vehicle-versus-pedestrian-crashes typically occurred at dusk and pedestrians usually had been drinking alcohol, but that shouldn’t be a reason to deny safe crossing of the street, especially when people are responsible enough not to drink and drive, Moss said.

“Is there some sort of alternative plan we can move forward with?” he asked councilors. “We want to mitigate the deaths and what is there that we can do to maximize dollars?”

BID leaders proposed some alternatives that could add some safety measures without the multimillion dollar cost of a complete street overhaul. One idea included adding three crosswalks with refuge areas for pedestrians to cross to the middle of the roadway. After crossing halfway, pedestrians would cross again for traffic heading the other way. Pedestrian-activated lighting could catch motorists’ attention, the leaders said. Lighting and two of the three center refuge medians could be reused when the roadway received its second phase of improvements. The interim safety measures are estimated to cost $200,000 to $250,000.

Moss said he felt compelled to again ask the city for help with safety improvements because, “not doing so would be irresponsible.”

Grand Junction Engineering Manager Trent Prall said after the meeting that the city wasn’t able to help fund improvements in 2015 when BID leaders first asked because the city didn’t even have enough funds at the time to match grants.

Prall said he would query the Colorado Department of Transportation to determine whether the project would qualify for a grant through the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton said general fund dollars are limited for next year’s budget, but the crosswalk project could receive some help or matching funds from one of the city’s restricted funds.

Horizon Drive is celebrating the one-year anniversary of completion of its first round of improvements, which included the installation of two roundabouts near the intersection of Interstate 70. The $6.6 million improvements — with costs spread among CDOT, the city, BID dollars and Ute Water Conservancy District — also added pedestrian lighting and some crosswalks near the roundabouts.

But the only other crosswalks along the route are located at G Road and at the intersection of Crossroads Boulevard. That leaves a wide swath of roadway near hotels and restaurants with no easy access to cross. As a result, pedestrians are likely to try to dart across the roadway, outside of the few established crosswalks, BID leaders said.

Plans for a second phase of Horizon Drive upgrades are pegged at $6.4 million and a third phase is estimated at $6 million.

Caton said Tuesday night the city is starting to fashion a 10-year capital improvement plan, but Horizon Drive’s next phase of improvements is slated at the end of that spectrum, six to 10 years out, and no funding has been identified.


COMMENTS

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The City says it has no money to build improvements to save the lives of pedestrians crossing Horizon Drive, where three tourists have been killed in the last seven years crossing the street between hotels and restaurants, yet the City pays over $6,000 every year to be a member at the highest level in the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, and readily agreed to put $22k into changing the name of North Ave.

Lives are at stake here. Shame on the City of Grand Junction!

What we are looking at is something which happens all over.  Businesses want to construct facilities and make a profit, and so do many public officials.  Yet, when those are proposed (and frequently approved) there is really no thought to safety, something which should have been part of the planning process and not come up as an afterthought, or something to be corrected “later on”.

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