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Alison Bourquin with Community Builders discusses preliminary ideas for Highway 50 in Salida with attendees at the Future 50 open house Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 50 Burger. Another open house is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at 50 Burger and another for 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Soulcraft (photo by Joe Stone).

Future 50 began its three-day Community Design Workshop Wednesday, Nov. 14, with several sessions culminating in an open house event at 50 Burger.

Wednesday’s workshop sessions served to begin developing strategies and ideas for future development along the U.S. Highway 50 corridor based on feedback and input from the community so far.

At the open house, consultants presented design concepts developed during the day and invited feedback from community members.

Transportation planner Jim Charlier discusses observations about the existing U.S. Highway 50 corridor through Salida during a Future 50 design workshop Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Salida SteamPlant annex. Charlier’s observations focused on safety and other issues identified by Salidans who have participated in the Future 50 process (photo by Joe Stone).

The same basic format will be repeated Thursday and Friday, Nov. 15 and 16, with the open house sessions running from 5 to 7 p.m. at 50 Burger and Soulcraft, respectively.

Wednesday’s meetings included a focus group session to develop ideas about local trail systems, but the primary session focused on broader issues related to transportation, growth and development along Highway 50.

Bud Tymczyszyn with Community Builders introduced the session by presenting the four primary concerns identified by Salidans at previous events:

• Safety.
• Connectivity.
• Vibrancy.
• Economic strength.

Presentations by Alex Joyce, managing partner and urban designer with Cascadia Partners, and Jim Charlier, transportation planning professional and president of Charlier Associates, offered professional observations about current conditions as well as ideas to address these four concerns.

Regarding the safety concern, CDOT Traffic Engineer Julie Constan said CDOT had conducted an informal speed study and found “no opportunity to reduce the speed limit.”

Charlier confirmed the safety concern based on CDOT data. “Salida’s injury and crash rates are high for Colorado,” partly because “travel speeds are high for a city street.” He also recommended that the city attempt to acquire funding from the Highway Safety Improvement Program.

Given the 2-mile length of Salida’s Highway 50 corridor, both consultants recommended focusing initial efforts on targeted sections of the highway and suggested the quarter-mile section around the F and G Street intersections as a priority.

Other suggestions included the area around the Holman Avenue intersection and the Oak Street (Colo. Highway 291) intersection, which Colorado Department of Transportation officials are already looking at from a traffic perspective, said Julie Constan, CDOT traffic engineer.

Charlier observed that Highway 50 in Salida has more than enough traffic capacity and asked if improving bicycling and walking along the Highway 50 corridor would benefit businesses enough to justify taking capacity away from cars and trucks.

At the evening open house, Tymczyszyn said the first day of the workshop had produced constructive ideas, mainly at a strategic level and that the conversations had bridged some gaps in people’s understanding of how various possibilities could address concerns.