Conflicting signs, downed trees stump residents

Action Line reader ‘Janet’/Special to the Herald

A Google Street View image shows a No Left Turn Sign just after the West College Drive and Camino del Rio intersection.

Right after one turns onto west College Drive from Camino del Rio, there’s a “No Left Turn” sign, which leads one to believe one shouldn’t turn left into the Wells Fargo bank parking lot. However, there’s a left-hand turn lane present shortly after the sign. Is it permissible to make a left turn into Wells Fargo when traveling east on west College Drive? – Janet

This is one of those cases of too many signs too close together.

But before we explain, allow Action Line to thank you for providing the two enhanced graphics that show the absurdity of this situation.

The Google “Street View” shows the placement of the No Left Turn sign just past the corner, while a Google satellite image leaves no doubt about a turning lane, complete with an arrow painted on the asphalt.

Our friend Pat Dressen, an engineering technician with the city, explained this quirk.

The No Left Turn sign was erected by the Colorado Department of Transportation “to let people going east know that they can’t turn left into the Shell gas station,” he said. “It applies only to that driveway.”

There’s a lot of west-bound traffic on west College Drive. Those trying to turn left across traffic into the gas station soon would find themselves not only unable to make that turn but in doing so become an annoying roadblock.

Seems self-evident, right? But given the dubious skills of many local drivers, a sign had to be installed to explain the obvious.

A few feet up the road, the city specifically created a lane to accommodate turns into the bank. That maneuver is OK.

However, this cross-lane exercise can be just as impossible, especially during high levels of traffic. Durango’s rush minute is just the time when most people want to use the bank’s drive-through services.

All of this soon will be a moot point. Pat said there are plans afoot to rework the intersection.

A raised median would take care of the ghastly gas-station gadabouts and the No Left Turn sign would come down.

Or maybe the city could just put in a flashing yellow arrow. They seem to be rather fond of these for every left-turning situation.

durango colorado

Why has the city cut down two of the largest trees in the park along East Second Avenue in the Animas City neighborhood? They were perfectly healthy trees, shaded the park beautifully and made the drive lovely. Sign me, Agitated (Again!) in Animas City

Being a passionate gardener, it’s hard to stump Action Line with tree questions.

So Action Line will go out on a limb and say the trees were neither healthy nor did they provide much shade – a claim supported by our bud Ron Stoner, city arborist, who got to the root of the situation.

The downed trees were large Lombardy poplars, a fast-growing skinny tree that is perhaps one of the worst plants for in-town situations.

Because they grow several feet per year to 100 feet, Lombardys once were popular poplars.

“But they get too tall, the wood is notoriously weak and they are susceptible to all sorts of diseases,” Stoner said.

“One tree was infected with Cytospora canker,” he said. “It would be dead in two to five years. The other showed signs of infestation. It was a now-or-later situation.”

The other reason for Stoner channeling his inner Paul Bunyan: Both trees were in the way of a park improvement project. The dysfunctional thin sidewalk is coming out and the Animas River Trail expansion is going in.

And then Stoner and his shady crews will plant 50 new trees along the street to create a greenbelt buffer.

The trees will be better suited for our climate and the setting.

“It’s going to be a really nice addition,” Ron promised, thus ensuring the park turns over a new leaf.

Email questions to or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you knew that Lombardy poplars were not named after football coach Vince Lombardi.

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