Mayor Don Stephens convened a meeting on Tuesday, October 22nd between representatives from the City of Salida, Chaffee County and Colorado Department of Transportation. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the results of a speed study conducted last summer on Hwy 50 in Salida. Kerrie Neet, Regional Transportation Director for Region 5, Mike McVaugh, Region 5 Traffic and Safety Engineer, and Angie Drumm, Local Government Liaison were in attendance from CDOT. Mayor Stephens, Councilman Keith Baker, City Administrator Dara MacDonald and Chaffee County Commissioner Frank Holman attended on behalf of our community.
MacDonald said the speed study was conducted on July 24 and 25 and August 21 of 2013. Preliminary communication from CDOT indicated that the speed would be increased on Hwy 50 east of State Street from 40 to 45 mph and west of Holman Avenue from 45 to 55 mph. Mayor Stephens contacted Senator Schwartz, Representative Wilson and Angie Drumm after he became aware of the coming speed limit increases. With their help, the meeting was arranged, MacDonald said.
Following discussion about the findings of the speed study, the CDOT representatives agreed that they would further consider the results of the study, MacDonald said. Mike McVaugh indicated he will work with the traffic engineering group in Denver in an attempt to maintain the existing speed limits for now. He indicated there is a high likelihood of maintaining the 40 mph zone on the east side of town. He will also work to maintain 45 mph between Holman Ave and WalMart. A final decision should be forthcoming by the end of next week, MacDonald said.
Mayor Stephens also raised the issue of whether a school zone could be applied to the highway in the area between New and Teller Street. CDOT will provide the City with information on whether or not the area would qualify for a school zone designation which could result in speeds as low as 25 mph during certain times.
Despite a strong desire to lower speeds along the highway corridor, the City has held off on initiating a traffic study to allow for physical improvements to first be implemented, MacDonald said. The City has been working over the past 4 years to reduce speeds and create multi-modal options along the US Highway 50 corridor though installation of sidewalks, stamped concrete crosswalks and streetlights. The City has been fully committed to working with CDOT staff on these efforts, MacDonald said. In fact, the City has spent $455,315 and CDOT has contributed $1,634,753 towards these efforts in the form of enhancement dollars. The City and CDOT will be executing additional enhancement improvements along this corridor in the spring of 2014. The 2014 project will include a pedestrian crossing at Milford Street and an electronic “Your Speed” sign.
A suggestion raised by CDOT during the meeting today was for the community to consider a ‘road diet’. This would mean a redesign of the travel surface and could include a variety of changes from medians to restriping. The City will host a public meeting with CDOT at 6:00 p.m. December 10th at the SteamPlant to begin exploring the possibility of a road diet as a long term solution to reducing speeds through the corridor. The City would need to execute an intergovernmental agreement before CDOT will move forward with any road diet planning. Mayor Stephens encourages interested members of the public to mark your calendars and attend the meeting December 10th to learn more before the Council moves ahead with such an effort.