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Durango to explore creating left-hand turn from historic East Third Avenue onto 14th Street

New route would eliminate a left-turn option at ‘Malfunction Junction’
Drivers make their way through Durango’s “Malfunction Junction,” the intersection at East Third Avenue, 15th Street and Florida Road, in August 2023. After residents pushed back against a proposed mini roundabout at the intersection, the city will now research the feasibility of eliminating northbound left-hand turns from East Third Avenue onto 15th Street, and opening East Third Avenue to left-hand turns onto 14th Street. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Durango residents raised their voices against a mini roundabout proposed for the intersection of 15th Street, Florida Road and East Third Avenue – and the city heard their cries loud and clear.

Alternatively, the city is considering eliminating northbound left-hand turns from East Third Avenue onto 15th Streetand opening up left-hand turns from East Third Avenue onto 14th Street, where a large median currently prevents such maneuvers.

City Council has agreed to spend $78,000 on a feasibility study to explore the option further.

The alternative was suggested by a focus group formed after outcries from residents sounded off against a mini roundabout at the problematic intersection – commonly referred to as “Malfunction Junction,” said Sarah Hill, Durango transportation director.

The feasibility study will cost an estimated $75,000, which City Council approvedon Tuesday. The Durango Financial Advisory Board recommend last month the city fund the study.

The $75,000 isn’t new funding and was already earmarked for the Midtown Safety and Connectivity project that concerns “Malfunction Junction,” Hill said.

“We will spend a portion of that $75,000 to go toward redesigning 15th, Third and Florida to disallow northbound left-hand turns. So there will be some design required at ‘Malfunction Junction,’” she said. “The majority of the funds will be going toward designing the intersection and street alignment across the Third Ave median to 14th Street.”

City Council approved another $3,000 that was budgeted but not spent last year to be put toward the project.

The feasibility study will include an update to a traffic study for the Midtown safety project and by its completion, the city will have a cost estimate for both the mini roundabout proposal and the realignment of 14th Street.

“We want to be able to look at the facts and all of the information possible to make the safest decisions for the community,” Hill said.

Malfunction Junction is on the top of a steep slope in midtown Durango. It has a yield sign for northbound East Third Avenue traffic and a stop sign for westbound East Third Avenue traffic, and crossings for cyclists and pedestrians.

The intersection received an “F” for “Failing” from the Colorado Department of Transportation because traffic is frequently congested.

Residents who live near or travel the intersection have witnessed speeding, fender-benders and bicycle versus vehicle collisions.


An earlier version of this story included a photo caption that misstated the left-hand turn that may be eliminated at “malfunction junction.

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