For seven months, Colorado College investigated the best ways to improve the current transportation system in the area to make it safer for pedestrians. The predominant focus was the crosswalks of Cascade Avenue.
Because CC is comprised of over two million gross square feet of space and is located in a city, it is inevitable that busy streets run through the campus. With constant pedestrian traffic from students, community members, or Jack Quinn runners, it is vital that these streets be constructed with pedestrian safety in mind.
CC’s study culminated in the Transportation Master Plan, which addresses the current safety issues associated with traffic, the most effective and practical forms of improvement, and the impact on the larger Colorado Springs community.
Another integral voice of the transportation reformations is the Citizens’ Transportation Advisory Board. The CTAB is responsible for providing the City Council and Mayor with information on transportation related concerns in Colorado Springs.
The CTAB formed a “working group,” which met monthly last year to address the matter of congestion on Cascade. They submitted a proposal plan to the City Council based on CC’s suggestions, and are waiting for the plan to be approved by the planning commission and eventually City Council of Staff.
At the moment, CC is playing a waiting game.
“The meetings were very productive and there were multiple views on how to best achieve the goal of a safer pedestrian community. The local community is important because the group looked at the impacts of any plan on the larger traffic system and larger community,” Dean of Students Mike Edmonds said.
Senior Garrett Benisch sat on CC’s committee last year to mediate the public’s interests and represent CC students.
“The biggest discussion at the committee meetings was whether Cascade is a road going through a campus or if CC was a campus on a road. In other words, who is more important: the pedestrians or the cars?” Benisch said.
The meetings generated numerous creative solutions such as creating a tunnel or putting fences around the medians, but the board ultimately proposed a system-wide road dieting approach, which is, essentially, a reduction in the number of lanes on Cascade.
“Traffic design can be very hard to understand because changes usually have the inverse outcome than what is expected. For example, lowering lanes actually creates smoother traffic patterns and quicker commutes because no one is trying to change lanes and get around each other,” Benisch said.
However, the proposal was not agreed upon without controversy. “There was one movement from a small group of residents after the road dieting solution was chosen that was a bit anarchistic. They created a website called safecc.com and took the pitch that an overpass was the safest way to protect our students,” Benisch said.
On Oct. 1, CTAB presented their anticipated budget to maintain the current transportation system in Colorado Springs. For maintenance alone, they proposed $18,195,648.00, but this will drastically increase when the transportation changes and finalized and included.
“I actually almost got hit by a car today in the crosswalk behind Shove because some lady was on her phone, but you can’t really do anything about that. You can put in all the flashing lights and stuff you want, but you can’t do anything to prevent someone from texting while driving or drunk driving,” CC’s tallest senior, Joe Jannetty, said.
Whether or not the proposal is approved, the discussion thus far has been collaborative and thorough.
“Ensuring a safe environment requires us to think holistically about transportation in and around the campus, and we had several meetings that included faculty, staff, administrators, students, and local community members. I am most proud of the fact that this plan has been a community effort,” President Jill Tiefenthaler said.