COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Colorado Department of Transportation expressed confidence Tuesday in the operation of a month-old bypass in southwest Colorado Springs, despite public criticism that it worsens traffic instead of helping it.
CDOT engineer Dave Watt said the bypass, officially called a quadrant intersection, near the busy intersection of Eighth and Cimarron streets, is working as intended and is easing traffic congestion in the area.
Watt disagreed with critics that the bypass worsens traffic flow and contributes to accidents like one Tuesday morning at Eighth and Cimarron -- which involved three vehicles and was caused by a driver who ran a red light.
"I see no way how the quadrant intersection could have caused that accident or any others," he said. "That entire area is still a work zone because of the nearby interchange project at Interstate 23 and Cimarron Street. Accidents can happen anywhere."
Police said no one was seriously injured in the Tuesday crash, although the driver who caused it was taken to a hospital.
Witnesses said the driver was eastbound on Cimarron when he ran a red light at Eighth Street. Several drivers have mentioned being confused in that area because at times it's hard to distinguish the right turn lane from the through lane.
Watt said drivers should have an easier time traveling through the area as the interchange project winds down toward its projected late fall completion date.
"More traffic is now going through that intersection, and access in and out of nearby businesses is better," he said.
However, some drivers have pointed out a few quirks -- such as traffic out of the shopping center at the bypass being blocked occasionally by vehicles in parking spaces, and two right turns within a block of Eighth Street that can leave drivers waiting behind traffic or at a traffic signals.
"I just don't understand some of the things they did," said Kevinn Lund, who regularly rides his bicycle through the area. "It doesn't make sense. There are too many traffic backups, too much confusion. Look at how the traffic backs up on Eighth Street. You can't get in or out of Arby's, or the car wash -- or (KRDO NewsChannel 13), for that matter."
But Martin Anderson, manager of the Popeye's Chicken restaurant in the shopping center, likes the bypass for two reasons.
"It seems to work well for me," he said. "It also brings more traffic into the shopping center, which means more customers for us."
Watt said CDOT will check out complaints about the bypass and try to resolve them.
The pedestrian bridge over Fountain Creek on Eighth Street, which had been closed as part of work on the bypass, has reopened.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 is researching how many traffic accidents have happened in the area since the bypass opened.