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Rex and Meridian roads redo starts soon

On Dec. 14, El Paso County hosted a meeting to discuss plans for the Rex Road and Meridian Road roadwork, which will start in early 2024 at a cost of $8.5 million. The project is an attempt to remedy the current safety hazards and provide an improved driver experience at the intersection of Rex and Meridian roads.

El Paso County Commissioner Carrie Geitner said in an online statement released by the county, “This project has been long overdue and is essential to the safety of the residents in Falcon. Unfortunately, we have seen accidents at this location, and we hope that this project will decrease the number of incidents at this intersection.” 

The project website states, “According to data pulled from the Colorado Department of Transportations from 2012 to 2022, there has been an increase in traffic crashes at this location during that time.” 

Safety is at the forefront of the project’s focus, along with increased road capacity and improved traffic flow. The project team’s first step began with analyzing traffic studies that considered traffic counts from as early as 2019, crash data and anticipated traffic growth in the area.

El Paso County in collaboration with international infrastructure consulting firm AECOM (the firm heading up design for the project) used the traffic studies to design vital improvements for the intersection. The improvements include installing a traffic signal with a timer and an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant pedestrian crossing on east Rex Road; road grading to improve sight distance; expanding Meridian Road to four lanes; adding turn lanes on Rex Road; making improvements to the shoulders, roadside ditches and stormwater drainage; and relocating utilities.  

Improving obstructed sightlines is perhaps one of the most crucial updates, as current terrain conditions do not align with today’s sight distance standards in the county.

Drivers need nearly 500 feet to stop for obstructions at 55 mph.

“Right now, existing Rex Road is posted at 55 mph and the existing hills and dips on that road only allow for 260 to 270 feet of driver sight. So, what we’re going to do is cut down some of those hills and fill in some of those dips to be able to see the full 500 feet that is required at a 55 mph posted speed.” 

Conner Crispell, an AECOM roadway designer

Conner Crispell, an AECOM roadway designer, said, “Right now, existing Rex Road is posted at 55 mph and the existing hills and dips on that road only allow for 260 to 270 feet of driver sight. So, what we’re going to do is cut down some of those hills and fill in some of those dips to be able to see the full 500 feet that is required at a 55 mph posted speed.” 

Another game-changing improvement that residents expressed excitement about at the public meeting is the crosswalk on east Rex Road. However, multiple residents were disappointed that there will still not be a place for pedestrians to safely cross Meridian Road. Since there is not a designated sidewalk in place there, installing a crosswalk was not an option because pedestrian crossings must be ADA compliant.   

The potential traffic impact during the roadwork construction period is another concern residents expressed at the meeting.

The project team explained that construction will be carried out in three sequential phases to minimize the traffic impact. During phase 1, traffic will remain on existing pavement while new northbound lanes are under construction on Meridian Road and temporary westbound lanes are being built on Rex Road. In phase 2, Meridian Road traffic will be shifted to new northbound lanes while new southbound lanes are being built and driveways are being rebuilt ; Rex Road traffic will be shifted to temporary westbound lanes while new eastbound lanes are being built and driveways are being rebuilt. In phase 3, Rex Road traffic will be shifted to new eastbound lanes while new westbound lanes are under construction. 

Road users might be asked to reduce speeds through the construction zone. While the project team doesn’t expect to impose road closures or detours, that could change if it is necessary to expedite completion of the project.  

One Meridian Ranch resident at the meeting encouraged fellow Meridian Ranch neighbors to use alternate routes to and from their homes to avoid the construction zone altogether and alleviate traffic for Black Forest neighbors and other drivers whose only option is to commute through the construction zone. 

The project team has 190 working days scheduled and estimates that construction will be finished by late 2025. 

One attendee at the meeting mentioned that he hoped improvements to Meridian Road in front of Walmart were next on the agenda. County engineer Josh Palmer hinted that minor improvements to that area are in the works for as early as this year. 

Even as this and other road safety projects are carried out, drivers can still contribute to the increased safety of local roadways by remembering to be responsible, law-abiding and distraction-free behind the wheel. In the words of Josh Palmer: “You can’t engineer out bad behavior.”  

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