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College and 8th Traffic Calming

Designing to Reduce Speeds & Increase Safety

Durango is considering a road diet along College Drive from East 2nd Avenue to East 8th Avenue (where the Goeglein Gulch Trail intersected College Drive) and along East 8th Avenue from Santa Rita Drive to East 8th Street. This “L” shaped corridor underwent a traffic study in 2016 to analyze the feasibility and potential impacts of implementing a road diet. 

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Road diets have been done on roadways across the U.S. that carry 
nearly twice the traffic volumes, up to an average daily traffic (ADT) of 23,000 vehicles per day (vpd), as College Drive (10,558 ADT) and East 8th Avenue (13,629 ADT) in Durango. They have been found to be more successful than the previously existing conditions in terms of improving business visibility and access, improving left-turn capabilities, maintaining and, in cases, improving traffic flow, reducing rear-end and sideswipe crashes, and improving bicycling conditions and safety, among other benefits (Road Diet Handbook: Setting Trends for Livable Streets).

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The traffic study showed that level of service on the roadways will maintain an acceptable level of service (projected out to 2030) with a lane reduction. This means that traffic can flow at current levels even with a road diet. The road diet project will provide the opportunity to implement necessary pedestrian crossing enhancements to improve access across East 8th Avenue at 3rd Street (Horse Gulch Medical Campus) and along College Drive, and improve overall safety for all road users. Moreover, the project was identified in the 2012 and 2016 Multimodal Transportation Plan and as such moved towards project implementation in the 2017 budget cycle.

How do Reduced Lanes Affect Busy Streets?

What’s a road diet? Quite simply “a road diet is anytime you take any lane out of a road” say traffic-calming expert Dan Burden in a recent video shot withStreetfilms.

The first time people hear about a road diet, their initial reaction likely goes something like this: “How can removing lanes improve my neighborhood and not cause traffic backups?” It seems counter-intuitive, but taking away lanes can actually help traffic flow smoother while improving safety for everyone.

Road diets are good for pedestrians: They reduce speeding and make vehicle movements more predictable while shortening crossing distances, usually through curb extensions or center median islands.

They’re good for cyclists: Many road diets shift space from car lanes to create bike lanes.

They’re good for drivers: Less speeding improves safety for motorists and passengers, and providing left-turn pockets allows through traffic to proceed without shifting lanes or waiting behind turning vehicles.

And here’s something to keep in mind during this era of lean budgets: road diets are a highly-effective infrastructure improvement that can be implemented quickly and at low cost.

Watch this video to see how a road diet works in action.

A road diet is generally described as “removing travel lanes from a roadway and utilizing the space for other uses and travel modes” according to 
Federal Highway Administration’s Road Diet Informational Guide. The most common road diet lane reconfiguration is the conversion of an undivided four lane roadway to a three-lane undivided roadway made up of two through lanes and a center two-way left-turn lane (TWLTL). The reduction of lanes allows the roadway to be reallocated for other uses such as (protected) bike lanes, pedestrian refuge islands, transit uses and/or parking.

Historically, road diets have been shown to enhance safety and access for all users, forming a welcome environment for various transportation modes and creating more livable spaces. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), road diets typically reduce collisions by 19 to 47 percent.

The recommendations from the City of Durango’s Traffic Study align with FHWA conclusions as the safety study suggests that 24 percent of the total traffic collisions during the study period are preventable by a road diet.

Got a minute? Community Builders' "Minute on Main Street" video helps communities figure out how wide street lanes should be.