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Sidewalks could save lives

At 8:07 p.m. on Oct. 18, a jogger running along the east side of Eastonville Road near Tompkins Road was struck by a 2005 Honda CRV, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The jogger, 38-year-old Michael Capote, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was an 18-year-old female.ìHe was jogging with traffic on the right side of the road,î said CSP Sgt. Scott Hophan. ìBasically, he made an abrupt left-hand turn and ran right into her car. She had her headlights on, so he shouldíve seen her; and she was doing between 32 and 35 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone.îHophan said that speed and alcohol were not a factor for the driver, and no charges were filed against her.The accident occurred in one of many neighborhoods in Falcon, where there is either no sidewalk or a sidewalk on only one side of the road. Longtime Falcon resident Kathy Hare said the lack of sidewalks has been a problem since the subdivisions were built.ìI think the way it started out was that first they developed on the west side of Meridian Road and they were on 1-acre lots, so no one thought about sidewalks,î Hare said. ìI donít think they could visualize the amount of development going on. Even though it was all projected, they just could not see that (type of growth) happening; and they really didnít care.îHare said developers were calling the Falcon area a ìbedroom community,î and people were not going to be walking. ìFalcon Hills is made up of one-half-acre lots, and no one put sidewalks in there,î she said. ìIt was only pressure from the Falcon property owners that developers put sidewalks in on one side of the street in Woodmen Hills. Eastonville Road doesnít have them, and thatís where they certainly need them for kids going to school and for people exercising.îWith the continued growth of the Falcon area, Hare said developers should consider putting sidewalks in every neighborhood they build. ìThey should consider it, but itís probably a matter of money,î she said. ìIf theyíre forced to do it, they will find the funds to do it and add a couple more bucks to the house prices. If theyíre not forced to do it, you get to the point where you canít blame the developer. Itís really up to our county. But I donít think itís on their radar, and I donít think they will go back and make Woodmen Hills put in sidewalks.îAndre Brackin, El Paso County engineer and deputy director for the public services department, said that when they built the Woodmen Hills subdivision, the criteria that developers needed to follow was different from todayís criteria. ìIf it was built now, they would need to put sidewalks on both sides,î he said.Brackin said the other issue is money. ìDevelopers donít want to build more sidewalks than they have to,î he said. However, developers must adhere to the regulations set by the county, Brackin said.Future developments will likely be required to have sidewalks on both sides of the street, unless they get some sort of waiver, he said. The Bent Grass subdivision on the west side of Meridian Road near the 7-Eleven, received a waiver because the developer used a unique ìcovingî style (varied lot shapes and home placements). With that style, winding roads are incorporated throughout the area, reducing the speed of traffic, Brackin said.Meridian Road, north of Woodmen Road is the one road that direly needs sidewalks, Hare said. ìEspecially with the commercial development on Meridian, people would love to walk to the store; and it seems like having sidewalks would make sense,î she said. ìThere are a lot of middle school students always crossing the east side of Meridian, coming over to the 7-Eleven. They donít know how to cross the street safely. I talk to them sometimes and tell them that the cars are doing at least 55 miles per hour. Thatís where Iím afraid weíre going to see the next accident.î

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