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A crash course on airing your Malfunction Junction views

This is basically what it’ll look like to turn left onto 14th Street from East Third Avenue. Don’t worry about those cars accelerating toward you off Florida Road. (Action Line)

Dear Action Line: I don’t quite know where to turn with my concern about the potential for left-hand turns from East Third Avenue onto 14th Street. Another “feasibility” study? For $78,000? Oh my! Please, please, please let my story be heard. I am one-third of the reason why that intersection was blocked off and turned into a staircase. In January 1974, I made a left-hand turn there. One simply cannot see if there is oncoming traffic. I inched slowly into the intersection, but by the time I could see, I’d been broadsided. I was not the only driver who risked turning blindly there. In fact, there were three accidents on that same corner THAT SAME WEEK! Back then, no feasibility study was needed. Instead, city leaders used reason, based on evidence, and decided to close that intersection. Surely our current leaders won’t decide that some flashing lights, or more signs, or those white, plastic, “traffic-calming” obstacles will mitigate the danger. YIKES! Where do I turn to keep them from turning that location into a left-turn nightmare? – Mary Mullen

Dear Mary: Looks like you have turned right toward Action Line, always here to straighten things out. You won’t be left in the dark.

Here’s the solution:

Never, never, ever, ever make a left-hand turn. Avoid them. Period. They are dangerous if only by raising your blood pressure. Remember that three rights = one left. Maybe, maybe make a left if you have a turn signal to help. Maybe.

Action Line will butt in and use this opportunity to say that eliminating the left from East Third onto 15th Street at Malfunction Junction solves almost everything. Unless you solve the issue by adding a left turn at 14th Street – is that really wise?

Mary’s query reads more like a letter to the editor, but Action Line will use sleight of hand to make it into a legit question. If someone wants to weigh in on the Malfunction Junction solution, how would they do so? Here are some ideas:

a) Write city councilors. You can contact them all in one fell swoop at CityCouncil@durangoCO.gov. For individual councilors, it’s firstname.lastname@durangoCO.gov.

b) Write a letter to the editor of The Durango Herald (editor@durangoherald.com) or Durango Telegraph (telegraph@durangotelegraph.com).

c) Stand on Speakers’ Corner and yell your message for the whole town to hear. Right, we don’t have a Speakers’ Corner. There’s one in London – does that help …?

d) Visit the city’s “Connect and Engage” webpage: https://tinyurl.com/3br927fb.

e) Email Devin King, the city’s multimodal manager, at Devin.King@durangoCO.gov.

Action Line did take that last step and emailed Devin King. Seemed prudent.

King explained that the MidTown Safety and Connectivity Design Project will consider two alternatives – the mini-roundabout at the Florida Road/15th Street/Third Avenue intersection, and the left turn from East Third onto 14th Street – and take them “to 60% design.” City Council on Feb. 20 approved an additional $75,000 in its budget for a feasibility study. (It already had $3,000 more hanging around.) The 14th Street alternative would mean eliminating the left from northbound East Third Avenue onto 15th Street.

“This will allow the City to analyze the feasibility, cost and safety of each intersection improvement alternative to determine which, if either, alternative would be the best for the community,” King said.

You might be wondering what “60% design” means. So was Action Line.

At 30%, you get a conceptual or preliminary design. At 60%, you get civil engineering plans that add in details such as grades, exact dimensions and cost estimates. At 90%, you have final construction plans and further cost estimates, at which point you can make small tweaks.

Of course, when it’s 100% built, you’re stuck with it for a while.

To be straight, Action Line is left thinking that the right time to get involved may be over. But maybe not. Politics is tough. Not everyone’s going to be happy about the ultimate outcome.


Last week, Action Line alluded to the famous 1600 address number, used by the White House and shared by the Durango Fitness Club.

Bayfield resident Dan Ford shared this with Action Line: He moved into a new home in 2004 and the Town Hall clerk “thought it would be fun to assign me 1600 … a la 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I also thought it was cool.”

Technically, however, his side of the street should have odd numbers.

“So,” Ford said, “UPS, FedEx, and, yes, even the fire department have trouble finding us. Always looking on the other side when heading north, their GPS tells them they have ‘arrived at your destination on the right.’ When I am expecting them, I am usually out in the yard watching them drive slowly past the house with their head swiveled in the wrong direction. Our address should be 1601.”

Action Line doesn’t have to live there, but thinks the supercool factor is worth the hassle.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Yes, Action Line is aware: If you eliminate the left-hand turn at 15th Street and don’t add one at 14th Street, you’re maybe going to want to widen 12th Street from East Second to Main so all the extra traffic has room to get by all those big trucks parked along that stretch.

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