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Rough road ahead

Plan to make Victory Way safer annoys some business owners

In an attempt to avoid a battle between the North and the South, business owners in a two-block area along Victory Way will meet to discuss alternatives to a traffic plan under consideration by city officials.

Mike Olson, a consultant with Bechtolt Engineering, presented a plan that would cut down on accidents but denies westbound traffic access to McDonald’s and Pizza Hut. Business owners say the plan will result in people cutting through the Safeway and Centennial Mall parking lots to get to where they need to go.

“The only thing you’ve done here is hurt business owners,” McDonald’s owner Chris Nichols said. “I don’t buy the ‘let the individual property owners work it out.’ It doesn’t work. The only thing you’ve done is create impact, not shown any relief.”



The proposal calls for two raised medians to be constructed in the two-block stretch. Heading west, drivers could only make left turns into the Kmart parking lot or onto Mack Lane. Heading east, drivers could turn left onto Ledford Street.

The plan also calls for the exit from the Kmart parking lot to be redesigned to allow only right turns out — preventing cars from trying to go straight across five lanes of traffic or turning left. The entrance west of Village Inn similarly would allow only for right turns in and right turns out. An access east of Village Inn would be constructed the same way.



The east and west accesses to McDonald’s would be closed, requiring the restaurant to reconfigure its drive-through to direct those leaving out through the same area they came in.

The study has been an 18-month long process initiated by the city to assist future planning when a new property owner requests an access point to their home or business from Victory Way. The Colorado Department of Transportation partnered with the city to fund the study, because that two-block stretch of highway boasts 85 percent higher rate of accidents than the state average based on traffic counts.

“This is really a safety analysis that directly impacts access,” Olson said. “Really, we’re trying to address turning movements to mitigate accidents.”

Last year, there were 26 accidents in that area.

There used to be a raised median through Victory Way, but CDOT pulled it out in the 1980s because it hindered snow removal. The move created a bi-directional turn lane, referred to as a “suicide” lane.

But, a growing safety concern has made CDOT officials anxious to put the median back.

The solution Bechtolt Engineering presented addresses the concerns voiced by CDOT officials but will require some creative problem solving by business owners.

“To make this work, you have to circulate traffic on-site,” Olson said. “With this scenario, you have to have access from Kmart to McDonald’s and Pizza Hut or it doesn’t work. We can use excess parking to create traffic flows off the highway.”

Business owners aren’t willing to support the proposal until their issues are addressed about the conceptual plan, and Olson said the city might have to offer some incentives to them to replace access they may lose.

The group will meet with Olson to discuss alternatives. This project will cost an estimated $268,000, but this plan could change before it’s finalized. The final project likely will be funded through a city-CDOT partnership.

The city has not budgeted any money to contribute to the project this year, but that doesn’t mean CDOT won’t ask for a contribution, City Manager Jim Ferree said. And there is no indication the project will begin in 2005, he said.

But the current budget does not include providing alternative accesses, and several business owners wonder who will have to bear that cost.

Mayor Dave DeRose said he doesn’t want to go forward with the plan until access issues for businesses are figured out.

“Unless we give the mall and Village Inn and Safeway some options, I really don’t want to do anything,” he said.

The proposal will be used as a starting point with area business owners planning around it. Should that be impossible, the plan may be changed.

“I guess I’m too stubborn to believe there isn’t a win-win situation here,” DeRose said.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.


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