These are the worst traffic headaches in Fort Collins, according to drivers

Our question last week asking you what your worst traffic headache is in Northern Colorado brought 43 responses.

If the answer with the most "respect" responses is any indication, then traffic light timing is the biggest frustration.

"The proliferation of poorly timed traffic lights in this town is absurd," Jacki S. said. "It seems like there must be a commission plan in place where the traffic people get paid for every new light installed."

As we've said before in a recap of a different transportation question, we know there are strategies that go into traffic engineering that most of us know nothing about, and it's worth remembering that.

But Matthew P. did wonder if the timing of traffic lights "rewards and promotes driving frantically well above the speed limit."

Speaking of traffic design: "I've always wondered what the designers were thinking when they dropped that Walmart/Starbucks/(Chick-fil-A) on one side and Costco on the other at I-25/Weitzel," Shawnda H. said. "How do you only give that much traffic one way in/out of the north side? Truly a traffic engineering disaster."

And again, Michael P. coming in with relevant color commentary: "I am disappointed by how many developments continue to get approved despite no plan in place for how to accommodate the additional infrastructure needs and impacts."

But another major headache: trains.

Bicyclist Sam Sickbert covers her ears as a train travels down Mason Street on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.  Sickbert waited to cross the street after visiting a Bike to Work Day station at Snooze an AM Eatery, on Mountain Ave. Bicyclists received free breakfast and treats at more than 68 stations located throughout Fort Collins. Bicycle mechanics  were located at several stations for minor repairs.

"Biggest traffic problem for me: trains," Jessica K. said. "Solution? None. Moving the train tracks is too $$. Solution is to be resigned that they will always be an issue until we pool enough money to build overpasses. Guessing the next overpass won’t happen for another 10 years."

"The city’s worst traffic nightmares are and always have been the slow-moving trains in the middle of town, midday, no less, causing miles-long backups. Not to mention all the other hazards created by them,"  Joseph G. said.

"What if we look at a smarter way to control traffic during train movements?" Tom L. said. "Can we consider ways to keep people from approaching the tracks during train movements by encouraging north/south movement? Can traffic signals work smarter to divert traffic from the area during the train movements to prevent some of the gridlock that happens around a train movement? What if people knew at Shields or Lemay that a train was crossing, and motorists can use that knowledge to plan a different route if possible?"

For now, there is one tool drivers can use: the NoCoTrainAlert Twitter account uses cameras to track trains on the Mason line (sensors are between Harmony and Trilby roads to the south and at College Avenue and Cherry Street to the north). If you are on Twitter, you can set alerts for @NoCoTrainAlert so it pops up whenever a train is en route.

"I use nocotrainalert constantly in my work. It's saved me numerous times, and the ETAs he lists are pretty close," said Fred C., who said he drives for his job.

And then there's Interstate 25

Related concerns could be about construction or just "wild drivers," Judy H. said.

"I don't remember the exact timing, but it seems as if I-25 has had near constant construction for various projects between Fort Collins and Longmont for pushing eight years now," Harry S. said. "Let's get this work done, guys."

In particular, Louise B. mentioned "the extremely narrow lanes going through construction areas on north I-25! Solutions? Be quick to monitor those spots that are causing the most accidents and rectify with a detour or minor adjustments to the width of the lane. Coloradoan (should) regularly publish where these shifting narrow lanes are so we can plan to avoid them or detour around them. Finish the construction! It's especially maddening when you see that the concrete barriers look like they could be spaced to allow a wider lane."

Chicken lines have got to go

The chicken and coffee lines on College Avenue (Raising Cane's, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks and Human Bean) are a source of oft-repeated frustration:

"Blocking College Avenue for the purpose of buying (chicken) needs to stop. Should be illegal!! Period!" Joseph G. said.

At least Cane's drive-thru redesign has had a positive impact: "It's been better. Every once in a while, the backup is still there, though," Fred C. said.

Reducing traffic lanes seen as counterproductive

"Dealing with any major roads that were reduced to one lane in each direction (Mulberry, Shields, Taft Hill)" is a problem, Liam D. said. "They did it to encourage people to bike more, but those roads are absurdly dangerous to bike on (especially now that all traffic flows in the same lane) and they now get backed up horribly at any time traffic is remotely busy."

Furthermore, Liam D. said, "making things smaller in a city that's growing at a rate that's already hard to keep up with seems kind of silly to me, and I think there's safer and smarter ways to encourage people to use their cars less, while also making things flow smoothly for those who do need to use their cars."

More generally, "the city roads cannot handle the increase in population," Janice S. said.

Another road to I-25?

Despite the Wednesday reopening of Kechter Road, "Harmony Road at I-25 will still be a problem. I think Horsetooth Road should be extended over/under I-25," Randall B. said. "It would then connect to Buss Grove Road on the east side. That way much of the Harmony Road and Prospect traffic could use Horsetooth/Buss Grove. It would connect to the roundabout at Ziegler. The roadbed is already there. A bridge would be needed over the Poudre."

It's worth noting that plan would require building the road through the boundary between Arapahoe Bend Natural Area and Rigden Reservoir.

For all the complaints — yes, we did ask you for them! — perspective matters. Leslie L. said: "Having moved here from a city where my daily 7.4-mile trek home in the evenings routinely took a minimum of 40 minutes on a good day (rare) to 60 minutes or more (usually), I LOVE the traffic here. Nothing's perfect, but driving here any day of the week is such an improvement, even with any temporary and quickly resolved delays, by comparison. Living here is a privilege for which I am grateful every single day."

Not seeing your worst nightmare listed? Other traffic headaches mentioned:

  • "South Timberline to Trilby, especially near Bacon Elementary, is pretty brutal, and this is before all of those apartments and houses go in." Shawnda H.

  • "The intersection of Lochwood and Horsetooth is a nightmare. Sometimes I wait 10 minutes to turn left. Sometimes I give up, turn right and follow Lemay to Harmony." Janice S.

  • "Either westbound or eastbound Trilby at College during rush hour. Not unusual to sit through several light cycles. A plan is in the works, but so is more housing, adding more traffic." John+W+And+Judi_T.

  • "Why does the city put 10 mph speed bumps on roads designed for 30 mph?" Fred C.

  • "Highway 402 from Loveland to Greeley is awful, especially during rush hour. And at (Colorado Highway) 402 and Boise (or) St. Louis you sit through several light changes. They need to make 402 a four lane all the way from Greeley to Loveland." Don. N.

  • "Harmony needs to be a four-lane road to at least the state highway that goes into Windsor, and it wouldn't hurt for Colorado (Highway) 14 to be four lanes to Ault." Wm. R

Stay tuned in coming weeks for responses to our other question last week: "Who should pay for school lunches in Colorado?"

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: The worst traffic headaches in Fort Collins: Coloradoan Conversation