To improve driver and pedestrian safety, this month the intersection of Montezuma Avenue and Mildred Road will be converted to a four-way stop from a two-way stop.
In addition, the right-turn and left-turn lanes on Montezuma will be eliminated at the intersection so it is single lane in all directions, said the Cortez Public Works Department. Bikes lanes will be preserved, and lighting will be improved. Total project cost is $11,950.
The change means traffic traveling north and south on Mildred Road will have to stop at the intersection, as well as east and west travelers on Montezuma.
The traffic pattern change will be made the week of Feb. 24-28, city officials said. Warning signs for approaching traffic will be installed informing drivers of the upcoming traffic pattern change.
The new stop signs on Mildred Road will have flashing lights, and all four stop signs will indicate an all-way stop.
Increasing traffic counts, safety concerns and congestion at the intersection triggered the change, officials said.
“It has become crowded there, and can be a little confusing,” said city engineer Chad Hill.
The traffic counts have risen to more than 300 per hour, which qualifies the intersection for the four-way stop, based on a Colorado Department of Transportation evaluation and a city engineering study released in December. The traffic counts are not high enough to warrant a traffic light, officials said.
There have been five crashes at the intersection in the past four years, and a lot of near misses, according to law enforcement and city officials.
On Jan. 15, a pedestrian in the crosswalk across Mildred was struck by a vehicle and seriously injured. The driver of the silver or gray extended-cab Chevy truck left the scene.
The Montezuma-Mildred intersection is a hub of the community. It provides vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle access to numerous destinations, including Kemper Elementary School, Parque De Vida and Centennial Park, the Cortez Library, pickleball courts, Cortez Municipal Swimming Pool and the Cortez Recreation Center.
The four-way stop is supported by the SGM traffic assessment released in December, CDOT, Cortez Police Department and the city of Cortez.
Making the intersection single lane will improve safety and reduce confusion for drivers, officials said.
Currently, vehicles stopped in the right-hand and left-hand turn lanes on Montezuma can restrict the views of other stopped vehicles looking for oncoming traffic. It can also be unclear who has the right of way.
“There is some jockeying going on now with drivers trying to see around each other. This will make it simpler for drivers, and safer for everyone,” Hill said.
The new stop also will help slow down traffic on Mildred Road, which travels between two popular city parks.
The nearby intersections of Mildred Road and Empire Street, and Mildred Road and County Road L are also four-way stops.