Motorists Should Make Preparations for Longer Travel Times; Bypass Declared Dead Again
With the approach of summer, the traffic across the Teller high country will reach an absolutely crazy level, according to the estimates of local residents and TMC insiders.
Some days during the summer, it could take motorists nearly an hour to get from Green Mountain Falls to Divide (about 10 miles), based on past trends and projections for the summer of 2023.
For years, local leaders and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) have strived to come up with ideas to calm the traffic on U.S. Hwy. 24 going through Woodland Park and the rest of the county.
Some say the medians in the middle of the highway should be removed to allow for faster traffic going through the city’s downtown strip. The other idea that has been passed around for decades was that of a bypass, which would lead the highway around Woodland Park.
But CDOT issued a press release last week saying that they decided to implement a better and more realistic approach to the problem: Install a slew of traffic signals to help appease summer motorists travelling through the area. According to these plans, local residents should brace themselves for at least 15 more traffic signals. So proper preparation should be made to plan for traveling from the lower Ute Pass to Divide and Florissant.
“Let’s face it, that stupid bypass everyone talks about is never actually going to happen,” said CDOT Director Karen Smith. “The only way to improve traffic in that particular region is to install more traffic signals and make people stop more often.”
The bypass project took on glimpses of reality in the early 1990s, but continual delays and funding woes basically killed the project, estimated at around $60 million, when first proposed.
Smith said that even though the last signal that CDOT installed in Woodland Park took decades to complete, the project will be conducted by a new contractor that plans to put in at least one signal every month for the next few years until the goal is reached.
The first traffic light project at Highway 24 and Park Street is planned to start on April 31 and be completed in just a few weeks. CDOT then plans to put in a traffic light on every single intersection on Highway 24 between Cascade and Florissant.
“The larger number of traffic signals will better help us control people,” the CDOT director said. “It has been proven that more lights leads to less traffic accidents, deaths, and really scary incidents. I don’t care if everyone has to stop every block on their way to the mountains and it takes three hours to get five miles as long as we can prevent one fender bender.”
Some local residents were thrilled to hear the news. “Traffic is just too fast going through Woodland Park,” resident Lisa Styles said. “I should be able to have my head buried in my phone and walk into the middle of the highway while not looking for traffic without the risk of getting killed.”
Former Woodland Park City Manager David Buttera, a big proponent of a lower speed limit in downtown Woodland Park, is absolutely thrilled over the development.
However, local city councilmembers hated the idea and said that CDOT should be dissolved. “This is a seriously bad move by unelected government bureaucrats,” Councilmember Ronald Zuluzuli said. “It is just another example of how the government does nothing but harm innocent citizens. We plan to sue and protest and then sue and protest again!”
Other council members called the decision “ridiculous.” In fact, they are so outraged by the idea, they are formulating a plan to start a bypass review this week to re-launch the former long-time proposal and to avoid a deluge of signal lights.
Another group of residents also plan to start a citizens initiative, calling for bringing back the bypass plan, and demanding state funding for the project.
Happy April Fools Day!