U.S. 6 study envisions 
safer cycling, walking route

The road that connects Palisade to Clifton and the rest of the Grand Valley beyond is a busy one, with a mix of speeding traffic and people walking and riding along a road initially built to handle primarily rural traffic.

So, with growth and safety in mind, the town of Palisade enlisted the help of planners and engineers from the city of Grand Junction, among others, to develop and recently finalize what’s being called the Highway 6 Corridor Study.

The major finding, culled from planners as well as community input: Facilities to accommodate increasing pedestrian and bicycle use are critical to any future development along the roadway.

“Based on usage, based on desire, and just based on common sense, they see and we see that there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, and bicycles are becoming more and more commonplace,” Palisade Planning Commission Chairman Richard Matthews said. “There’s really a lack of any well-defined corridor through there that protects the people that use it in that fashion.”

A number of focus groups and open houses allowed the public to contribute their ideas, which boiled down to a select few improvement areas.

Pedestrian safety was a major issue, especially for high school students on the west side of the corridor. The study also includes crosswalk and pedestrian improvements near the Brentwood Drive intersection and a sidewalk along the entire stretch of U.S. Highway 6.

Improvements to traffic flow, concerns about driver conflicts at irregular intersections and aggressive driving are addressed as well. Specifically, the intersections at Elberta and Iowa avenues are targeted for conversion of four-lane sections to three lanes with added bike lanes, a center median, and new turn lanes.

“Highway 6 is a major route through town, and it’s extremely odd the way it’s constructed. It presents a lot of problems, and the mere way that it’s laid out makes it dangerous for our youth,” Town Trustee Dave Edwards said. “If there’s one thing that we need to do as soon as we can, it’s to figure out how to make that road safer.”

The study also included ideas for improving wayfinding and adding signage directing traffic to Interstate 70.

Many public comments also focused on improving the bridge that crosses the Colorado River at the east end of the corridor. But planners decided that since the bridge is not set for any type of replacement or upgrade by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the likelihood of it being retrofitted with new pedestrian or bike lanes is minimal.

The study has no funding attached to the proposed project. The idea is to get the town’s preferred ideas for improvements on CDOT’s list of priority projects. CDOT will ultimately decide what, if any, improvements are made to Highway 6 in the Palisade area.

“You’re legitimizing some of the issues from the study that were brought to the fore by the public,” Community Development Director Becky Levy told town trustees. “It will really help CDOT take it seriously in any future plans that they have for the Highway 6 corridor.”

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