Highway of Legends Improvement Recommendations

Collaborative Planning Process Focuses on Road and
Trail Improvement Safety 
Recommendations on the Colorado’s Scenic Highway of Legends

Southeastern Colorado — (April 27, 2020) In early April, the Southern Mountain Loop Planning and Environmental Linkages study project team held a virtual meeting for stakeholders to discuss the highway safety improvements and trail alternative recommendations. “We received great feedback at the stakeholder meetings. The groups were engaged and appreciated what was presented,” said Walt Bouldin, Executive Director of the South Central Council of Governments. “This process gets us closer to completing a comprehensive investment plan integrating highway safety with bicycle/recreational trail, cultural/heritage, and nature-based tourism infrastructure improvements along the corridor to serve visitors and all users,” said Bouldin. The stakeholder and steering committee presentations from these virtual meetings can be found at https://www.codot.gov/library/studies/co-12-sml-pel

Recommended Highway Safety Improvements

Providing only highway safety improvements would not fully address the needs of the byway. To fully accommodate all non-motorized users, such as bicyclists and pedestrians of varying abilities, and to provide trail connections to the communities and attractions along the byway, trail improvements are needed in addition. The trail could be located along the byway, either attached to the roadway or separated yet within the CDOT right-of-way.

In some locations, it may be advantageous to better fulfill the goals of the Colorado Front Range Trail (CFRT), to locate the trail off the byway. Regardless, highway safety improvements would be included with the trail to fully meet the needs of the byway.

Southern Mountain Loop Highway 12 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study

The recommended highway safety improvements include:

• Improved highway signage, pavement striping, and pavement rumble strips.
• More detailed study of wildlife crossings and crash mitigation at four locations.
• Wider and continuous roadway shoulders.
• Upgraded signage and roadway shoulder at the curve southeast of North Lake.
• Upgraded signage and a curb-and-gutter roadway section within Segundo and Jansen.
• Upgraded signage at the US 160 railroad crossing in Walsenburg.
• Modifications at the Santa Fe/Main Street intersection in Trinidad.
• Sidewalk and pedestrian crossing(s) improvements in La Veta, Cuchara, and Stonewall.

Recommended Trail Alternatives Screening

The trail alternatives recommended from the initial screening have been studied in more detail. The alternatives include various combinations of on-highway and off-highway trail options beginning and ending at Lathrop State Park to the north and Trinidad Lake State Park to the south. All trail alternatives include highway safety improvements.

Scenic Highway of Legends Byway Features

The byway provides visitors, tourists, and local residents the opportunity to learn about the region’s rich history, experience its unique geologic landscapes, and enjoy beautiful scenery. It is an important attraction for the Spanish Peaks Country. For many, the byway and its amenities, such as visitor centers or scenic pull-offs, are the principal means of recreation, sightseeing, and enjoying the backcountry.

A number of byway-related features are included in the study’s recommendations. These amenities include several improved and new scenic pull-offs with interpretive signage and new or improved visitor centers in La Veta, Cuchara, and Stonewall with restrooms and traveler information.

What’s Next?

The PEL Study will produce a master plan of highway safety, trail, and byway-related projects for more detailed study, design, and with funding, construction. Based on the Recommended Alternatives, the study’s next step is to develop an overall Implementation Plan to identify and prioritize the individual projects. The study’s recommendations will be presented at a
public open house in early summer and documented in a final report to be released to the public. Continue to check the project website for new information about the study.

Project Study Information:
The South Central Council of Governments and Colorado Department of Transportation are studying the Scenic Highway of Legends (SHOL) byway, an 82 mile corridor between Walsenburg and Trinidad along US 160 and State Highway 12. The purpose of the project is to improve highway safety and provide a regional and local multi-use trail, completing the Colorado Front Range Trail (CRFT), along the byway. The CRFT is a planned multi-use trail by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife along the Front Range from Wyoming to New Mexico. This study, being conducted as a Planning and Environmental Linkages study, will determine a master plan of future projects to improve highway safety and provide a multi-use trail.

Sign up to receive project information and notices of public open houses by sending an email to SouthernMountainLoop@gmail.com or call 719-427-1078.

Contact: Walt Boulden
South Central Council of Governments

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