Driving You Crazy: Why are there black plastic bags over the walk signal in Lakeside?

Posted at 5:22 AM, Mar 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-10 08:52:37-05

Teresa from Lakeside writes, “What is driving you crazy? On 44th Avenue, the municipality of Lakeside has 2 traffic lights between Sheridan and Harlan that haven't worked properly for years.  One is at Fenton, going into Walmart, the other is at about Depew, going into a gas station.  Both of these lights are just on a cycle, rather than sensing traffic.  They constantly stop traffic on 44th and hold it for several minutes, when no other cars have approached from the cross streets.  Super annoying!  They've both had black plastic over the walk signals for several years as well. I can't figure out how to contact anybody official for Lakeside.  Please help!”

Teresa, the little town of Lakeside is really, really little. It's only about a quarter square mile in size with its boundaries between 48th Ave to the north, 44th Ave to the south, Harlan Street to the west and Sheridan Blvd to the east. A large portion of the town’s land is water in the form of Lake Rhoda. The other big land owners are Walmart on one side and Lakeside Amusement Park on the other. Another big chunk of town land is the rundown Lakeside Speedway that closed in 1988 and sits in a state of decay and disrepair today. According to the 2010 census, the population of Lakeside is 8, making Lakeside the least populous municipality in the State of Colorado.

I too had trouble at first getting ahold of someone at the city of Lakeside. You have the option of calling the courthouse or the police department. I started with the clerk and was eventually directed in the right direction. 

The two traffic lights on 44th, at Depew and Lamar, belong to Lakeside. The town uses WL Contractors to maintain the lights and set the signal timing. WL maintains lights for many small and large towns across the Front Range.

These lights are on a system called an inductive loop. I talk all about inductive loops in an earlier Driving You Crazy story you can read here.  WL reports that the signal timing and the loop system are working properly. Sometimes though, small cars, some newer cars and motorcycles don’t have enough metal in them to trigger the electromagnetic field to activate a change in the traffic light. That might be part of the problem you have at the lights. 

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

As for the cover over the crosswalk signs, they definitely don’t look pretty. They are covered in thick, black plastic, tied tightly over the walk/don't walk signals. Lakeside Assistant Police Chief Sam Vecchiarelli tells me the signs are covered because they want to discourage people from crossing the street on that side of the intersection.

“We have a lot of foot traffic through there because there are two bus stops and fortunately both bus stops are on the east side of those intersections. So it is easier, I think, for the people to just use that east side crosswalk.”

Vecchiarelli admits that they could make some improvements to the intersection that might help the pedestrians who want to cross 44th. “We need to get it repainted because it is getting faded out,” he said.

Since the town of Lakeside doesn’t have their own public works department that work will have to be contracted out. Vecchiarelli indicated to me that it could be a while before that work is done.  

Denver7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is over 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast.