Local holiday traffic congestion continues

Longer weekend a factor, authorities say

Local holiday traffic congestion...

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Drivers expecting Fourth of July holiday traffic congestion to ease Monday found quite the opposite.

For the second straight day, the focus was on U.S. 24 between west Colorado Springs and Woodland Park.

There continued to be a large flow of traffic to the Pikes Peak Highway -- enough to delay cars trying to turn left on the PPH and to occasionally block eastbound traffic on U.S. 24.

Most of the remaining traffic was moving farther west, and vehicles moved more smoothly west of the PPH.

Despite another day of congestion, traffic apparently improved from Sunday when El Paso County Sheriff's deputies conducted traffic control at the intersection of the two highways.

"It's rare when we have to do that," said Sgt. Chris Ganstine.  "Sometimes it can cause more problems than it solves, but on Sunday the backups were blocking other intersections so we took action."

Gary Thompson of Colorado Springs pulled over onto the shoulder of U.S. 24 several times and waited for congestion to ease.

"I'm going to Lake George," he said.  "I'm pulling over because I hate waiting in traffic.  I didn't get caught in it until today.  I wasn't expecting it to still be this bad."

Bob Voss is among a group of motorcycle riders from Minnesota going to the summit of Pikes Peak and also caught off guard by the heavy traffic.

"It's a bit stressful because we've got guys trying to stay together," he said.  "But I'm not worried.  There's no rush.  We'll be here all week."

Authorities said there had been no crashes reported during the holiday weekend until midday Monday, when two occurred about an hour apart in the westbound lanes of U.S. 24 near the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.

One person was injured and taken to a hospital, as the crashes further slowed traffic in the area.

Colorado Springs police Lt. Howard Black said Interstate 25, Academy Boulevard and Powers Boulevard also are affected by heavy traffic.

"We ask people to drive carefully, drive safely," he said.

Authorities said although some travelers returned home Monday, congestion could be at its worst Tuesday afternoon and evening as people try to come home in time to attend evening fireworks shows.

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