EDITORíS DESK: Watch out for road construction

       Here we go again.
       The state's highway engineers have scheduled another open house Jan. 26 in hopes of convincing us that we need concrete, wide and tall, to save us from our driving selves on Highway 24.
       I have to admit, the deeper I get into this, the more confused I become. If this corridor is so desperately needed as a route to and from the mountains or out east, then why isn't a similar traffic crunch perceived outside of this 6 1/2-mile segment through the Westside? An interesting projection, which the state provided too late to work into this issue's main story, is that Woodland Park in the year 2030 will have virtually the same amount of traffic as it does now. How is that possible when ours will theoretically have risen nearly 50 percent by then? I don't have numbers for the Colorado Springs downtown, but the state's response to the obvious question was the same: not enough increase to justify an expansion. Then there's the statistic that only 6 percent of the current trips on the local segment have a Westside or Manitou starting and ending point. And the other 94 percent? Again, the mystery.
       Yes, Gold Hill Mesa is coming in. It's supposed to add 17,000 trips a day at full build-out. But surely that can't be enough to generate the ramped-up traffic projections the state is giving us. If so, then Gold Hill needs to be scaled way back, or its investment group given a bill for $250 million (an official's unofficial swag as to the cost of either the freeway or expressway alternative).
       But in the end, what difference do numbers really make, anyway? The starting point should not be traffic counts, but how to preserve the Westside. Yes, I know a lot of people out there like going places fast, but this Highway 24 plan is one deal that none of us should be hurried into.

- K.J.