Ridge Road Permanently Closes – Makes Way for Pedestrian and Bike Plaza
In January, a major milestone for the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) construction project occurred when the City of Colorado Springs permanently closed Ridge Road between Colorado and W. Pikes Peak avenues. The short stretch of road is being transformed into a pedestrian and bicycle plaza. The concept for the plaza came as a result of a City of Colorado Springs traffic study that the road closure would improve intersection operations and result in increased safety for both drivers and pedestrians. “The plaza serves as a pedestrian, transit and bicycle node along the corridor and will improve the aesthetic of the area. It will also improve overall traffic flow with the addition of a bus lane for pickup and drop off that will be coordinated with the traffic signal phasing,” said Dennis Barron, WAAP project manager for El Paso County.
The pedestrian and bicycle plaza will include a new aesthetic wall between Pikes Peak and Colorado avenues, street lighting, sidewalks, landscaping, bike racks, a bike repair vending machine, and a Mountain Metro Transit bus queue jump. A queue jump is a separate lane for buses allowing safe passenger loading and easy merging back into traffic with a new coordinated signal system. “This new bus stop will enhance safety for those using the bus service and will provide an additional pull-off lane so as to not interfere with traffic on the road,” said El Paso County Commissioner, District 3, Stan VanderWerf. To get around the closure of Ridge Road, motorists can take Colorado Avenue to S. 36th Street or S. 34th Street to connect with W. Pikes Peak Avenue and Ridge Road. The cost of the plaza, expected to be completed and open by this Fall, is included in the $31-million budget for the Westside Avenue Action Plan construction project.