Friday, August 31, 2007

Dogs in backs of pickup trucks not a legal matter

I wondered if the Colorado Springs Police Department actually enforces the law against driving with a dog in the back of a pickup truck. Time and time again I see dogs back there, like they are an inanimate object or a piece of luggage. I have personally seen a dog thrown from a pickup, literally fly out and killed, because the driver had to swerve suddenly. Not a pretty sight. So, is this law even being enforced or do the CS Police just turn a blind eye?
- Lee

ANSWER: It’s not illegal! Apparently the state legislature considered a law prohibiting people from keeping their dogs loose in the back of pickup trucks, but it was killed, said Ann Davenport, spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

Law enforcement or humane officers would have to prove the dog is suffering as it rides in the back of a truck, but usually the dogs “are having the time of their lives,” oblivious to how close danger really is, she said. If an animal is thrown from a truck and injured or killed, this might fit under the state’s cruelty ordinance, Davenport said.

If you want restrictions on dogs in the backs of trucks, you should talk to your legislator.

Resort occupany numbers a private matter

The reports on the occupancy rates at Colorado Springs hotels and motels published in The Gazette always add “Local resorts, such as The Broadmoor, are not included in these numbers.” Why not? To report on occupancy rates without including the largest and most important facilities is ridiculous.
- Jack D. Rodreick

ANSWER: It is a hotel or motel’s right to not be included. According to Ivy Canady, Broadmoor public relations manager, “Since we are a privately held company, our ownership chooses not to share that information with the general public. We are included in the Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, but you cannot pull out our numbers separately."

Ongoing yard sales a city code violation

Is there a limit on how long a “yard sale” can be held in Colorado Springs? Near my location a yard sale has been going on for at least 3 months. When I checked it out for an item I was told to keep checking back because they get new items each week.
- A. Michaels

ANSWER: Permanent yard/garage sales aren’t allowed in the city. City code 2.7.416: GARAGE SALES specifies that a garage sale can be held no more than two times each calendar year and cannot exceed two consecutive days.

You can file a code-enforcement complaint online at; scroll down to Quick Links. The officers will check it out.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Yes, you're hearing more trains going through

I live on the north end of Colorado Springs and have been wondering if there has been an increase in the number and frequency of trains passing through town in the middle of the night. In the past 14 years I don’t recall hearing as many trains between 2:45 a.m. and 5 a.m. as I have been hearing lately.
- D. Gallagher

ANSWER: We had similar e-mails from Monument and Gleneagle, and Karen Liptrap from Widefield had this observation: “Not only do there seem to be more trains but the whistle blowing frequency and duration has increased, and is very annoying during the sleeping hours. There are times that it sounds as though two trains are playfully signaling each other.”

There has been a major increase in train traffic, according to the railroads. It’s estimated we get 35-40 trains each day. James Barnes, director of media information for Union Pacific Railroad, said, “In general, business customers are looking at railroads as the most cost-effective way to move automobiles, grain, heavy freight. There are more, larger and heavier loads being moved.” Barnes said this trend is “being driven by increased trade on the West Coast from the Pacific Rim, goods coming in from China.” As we’ve seen here, they are also delivering "a great deal of coal.” Barnes said that as quickly as trains are loaded “we’re moving them toward their destinations” so they’re rolling day and night. With these increased loads you’ll also see and hear more railroad work crews, Barnes said. “When you’re carrying heavier loads you have to maintain the corridor, the infrastructure.”

Now about those horns. Since 2005, federal law has required that train crews blow their horns for 15-25 seconds when they approach a crossing. They are also required to blow the horns when wildlife or people are close to the tracks. There is no set sequence to the horn blasts, although in days gone by engineers had a horn message system.

What can you do for peace and quiet? They’re called “quiet zones.” Towns and cities can request “quiet zones” where no horns will be blown by trains passing through. However, those towns and cities must have safety features in place at all crossings. It’s expensive. Four crossing gates with flashing lights are at least $250,000 per crossing. Monument requested a “quiet zone” in 2005, and Security and Colorado Springs have looked into establishing “quiet zones” but financing them will always be an issue.<

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New signs for AFA's "Historic District"

Going north on I-25 just before the North Academy exit, I noticed a brown sign on the side of the road that reads “Air Force Academy Historic District.” What is the story behind that sign
- Kathie Murrow

ANSWER: On April 1, 2004, the cadet area of the Air Force Academy, where the cadets live and train and including the chapel, was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. The designation was commemorated with a stone monument at the Honor Court outside Arnold Hall. If a part of a facility is designated, the remainder is eligible for the same designation, according to AFA director of communications Johnny Whitaker.

Districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects are awarded National Register designation if they have significance in history, architecture, archeology, engineering and culture. It is administered by the National Park Service, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Earlier, the AFA superintendent’s house had been placed on the National Register. The exterior of the house can never be changed, according to AFA historian Betsy Muenger.

Whitaker said the signs on Interstate 25, which went up in May, had been requested to show travelers when they are passing through the academy, which runs on the west from a half mile south of Baptist Road on the north to an area south of the South Entrance, between Woodmen Road and Academy Boulevard.

Woodmen exit right-turn red light means stop

When travelling northbound on I-25, if you take the Woodmen exit and turn right (eastbound) on Woodmen, there is a traffic light over the lanes that merge onto Woodmen. I have never seen anyone stop when the light is red. I always stop, and get honked at (among other “gestures”). Are motorists required to stop at this light if it’s red, even though it’s a right turn?
- Erich

ANSWER: You’re the driver who’s doing it correctly. City traffic engineer Rob Helt says it’s a “turn right on red” situation, which means if the light is red a driver must stop and can then make the right turn while yielding to oncoming traffic. Police can, and do, ticket those who don’t stop on red.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Some tracks being removed along Rock Island Trail

I enjoy walking along the Rock Island trail near where the old railroad bed is. I reminisce about how the train used to take passengers to our city. Recently I noticed that the rails are being dismantled on the trail section west of Powers. My questions are why are these rails being removed, who approved it and who's paying for it?
— Robert Veghte

Reader Darlene Hultquist also wrote in about the rails saying “the trail got its name from the railroad and the tracks were part of the trail. It's such a disappointment to see them removed.” After biking the trail Rod Rockwell e-mailed, “Another piece of Colorado Springs history falls to the wrecking ball.”

ANSWER: Here’s the answer from Chris Lieber, who manages trails and open space for the city parks department. The city is purchasing the property but the railroad tracks are owned by Colorado Springs and Eastern Railroad, which is salvaging them. “This does not involve city dollars,” Lieber said. “At three points where the trail crosses the railroad tracks, these sections of track will be retained for their historical value, to kind of always help people recall the historical significance of the railroad,” Lieber said.

Lou Carpenter of Manitou Springs wrote: "I would suggest Robert Veghte take his hike west of Powers Blvd. along the Rock Island Trail. He will find several places where the railroad crosses the trail and shows exactly how it was. I ride the trail from the Bon Shopping Center to Powers Blvd. and back, often. It is delightful and also pleasant to note that none of the work was done at taxpayer expense. We can give a big Thank You to the Trails and Open Space folks for this delightful experience."