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Walsenburg City Council endorses CDOT safety plan

by Eric Mullens

Emilio Archuleta gave the opening remarks concerning the history of a bicycle and pedestrian safety plan he began working on while still a student at John Mall High School in 2013/14. Photo by Eric Mullens
Emilio Archuleta gave the opening remarks concerning the history of a bicycle and pedestrian safety plan he began working on while still a student at John Mall High School in 2013/14. Photo by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council and a number of interested citizens watched a PowerPoint presentation Tuesday night concerning the Walsenburg Pedestrian/Bicycle Study compiled by Stolfus & Associates for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

The introduction to the presentation was made by Emilio Archuleta, who, when still a student at John Mall High School, began an effort to address safety concerns for walkers and bicyclists in the community. His concerns grew into a working group, the Pedestrian Advocacy Team, under the umbrella of LiveWell Huerfano County and culminated this week with a 5-0 vote by the city council for the project to continue. “The first project was the share rows, then we moved to the bigger projects we’re sharing tonight,” Archuleta said. The share rows are the bike lane logos that have been painted on various streets in the city.

The study was done to determine what improvements are appropriate to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists on state highways within the city, US 160 (Seventh Street) and the I-25 connection (Main Street and Walsen Avenue).

The study identified the three areas of immediate concern which could be addressed by construction efforts in the summer of 2017, following the formal design phase scheduled to begin this year.

The plans include installation of pedestrian crossings, activated by electronic signs that would stop traffic on Seventh Street at Walsenburg Wild Waters; and another on Walsen Avenue near Spanish Peaks Public Library. Sidewalk installation and improvements are connected with the library crossing area as well as in the area of the box culvert (bridge) located near Walsen Avenue and Pine Street on the city’s north side, utilized by shoppers and students. Plans there call for installation of a safe bike/ pedestrian walkway and a slight widening of the street. There will have to be additional structural study of that area, according to CDOT Traffic Resident Engineer Matthew Jagow, who addressed the council and audience on the particulars of the plan.

Approximately $1 million in funding, from grants and CDOT coffers has been approved for the project.

Projected costs for the library crossing portion are estimated at $300,000; costs for the Grand Ave./ Pine Street culvert project are estimated at $830,000 (option B costs are estimated at $370,000) and costs for the Seventh Street crossing at Wild Waters is estimated at $310,000.

Jagow said he had not seen such community interest in this kind of project before saying nearly 50 people attended the initial public meeting in January 2016 and a total of 38 comment forms were turned in to CDOT following that session.

Mindful of various downtown economic improvement discussions and the proposed Judicial Complex project that could lead to the closing of West Fifth Street, Huerfano County Administrator John Galusha said, “Nothing CDOT wants to do (in this proposal) is inconsistent with any of the city’s future plans.”

In other business: Following a public hearing in which there were neither any pro or con comments from the public, the city council approved Ordinance 1092 on second reading. The ordinance adopts the latest editions of the international building, residential one and two family dwelling, mechanical, fire, energy conservation, property maintenance, and fuel gas codes with amendments specifically designed for tiny homes.

One area of concern was brought up by councilman Dennis Hoyt, who said he would like to have seen definitions in two sections of the ordinance explaining waivers included in sections dealing with the mechanical and fire codes. Walsenburg Planning and Zoning Board Chairman David Roesch said he would provide those to Hoyt.

The ordinance was approved unanimously with five votes, with council members Clint Boehler and John Salazar II both absent.

Council also approved a lease purchase agreement that will equip Walsenburg police with body cameras.

Brian Trani of Martra Operating Partnership was on the agenda to discuss some issues pertaining to their project east of the city, but, with both the city administrator and attorney absent, this item will be discussed at the next council meeting.