Lack of Crosswalk at Amtrak Station Raises Concerns
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- Nearly 30,000 people a year take the Amtrak train as it goes through Grand Junction, but some of those who are visiting may have trouble finding their way out of the station.
"Downtown Grand Junction has so much to offer, and travelers who come by Amtrak get off here and really have very limited access to downtown," said Paul Brown, former chairman of the Save the Depot committee.
A stone wall lines the station's parking lot, with only one opening that leads straight into traffic going roughly 35 mph around a blind turn.
The nearest crosswalk options would take travelers at least two blocks in each direction, one at Fourth Street and Pitkin Avenue and one at Main Street and 1st Street (I-70B); some travelers take the challenge and dodge vehicles to get a more direct route toward the hotels downtown.
Grand Junction City Council member Bennett Boeschenstein has been fighting for a crosswalk outside of the Amtrak station for the last five years. He says it's not just inconvenient for travelers, it's plain dangerous.
"We've had people from the hotels and Main Street really complain about the fact that we don't have a crosswalk here; we've had people that have almost been killed trying to cross here ... we need to do it," Boeschenstein said.
He and other supporters of the crosswalk have been left wondering what has taken so long to make the change.
Since the road is an extension of I-70B, a state highway, city officials have to work with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
"[CDOT is] trying to move traffic safely and effectively, and when you integrate pedestrians with that, you have to be careful on how that's done," said Tim Moore, deputy city manager.
Planners say combining a crosswalk with parts of a highway is very complex.
"It's higher speeds; they can't really see the pedestrian. Pedestrians don't really have as much sight distance as they need for safety, so to simply just install a crosswalk isn't a very good option," said Moore.
He said a crosswalk with flashing lights that is built in conjunction with other traffic signals may be the best choice, although that can cost up to $100,000.
"As far as the downtown business goes and the city of Grand Junction, I think it will pay for itself many times over," said Brown.
Moore also told NewsChannel 5 that CDOT is currently working on a larger project that includes the area where the Amtrak station is; they hope as designs are made in the next few months that a crosswalk is included.