Avenue from Beckers to 32nd to become 2 lanes plus center lane

       A one-mile-plus segment of Colorado/Manitou Ave-nue through “No Man's Land” will be reduced to one lane each way, with a center lane for turning.
       This was the overwhelming desire of citizens at a three-hour public meeting Jan. 17 in the continuing Westside Avenue Action Plan study effort, which also endorsed the recommendation of the “project management team” (consultants and local-government staffers).
       The segment, currently two lanes each way and lacking turn lanes, is between 32nd Street and Beckers Lane.
       Project team members describe the recommended layout as a “three-lane” style. In statistics provided at the meeting, three-laning was depicted as advantageous in such matters as speed (slower, to make it seem less like a thoroughfare and more like a shopping district - plus Highway 24 is nearby for people who want to go fast), safety and access (a turn lane reduces accidents), costs (a narrower road means less right of way will need to be bought) and road width (if cars don't need as much space, more will be available for amenities - examples: bike lanes, wider sidewalks, streetlights, landscaping, parking and/or bus pull- outs).
       The overall study area also includes the avenue from 32nd to 31st and Beckers to Manitou's Highway 24 interchange. Those portions (less than a quarter-mile each) will not be changed from their current layout of five lanes (two lanes each way, plus a turn lane), project team leaders announced.
       The challenge now will be transitioning the new three-lane segment into the existing five-lane, commented Kathleen Krager, the city's transportation manager. “Transitions are a traffic engineer's nightmare,” she said. “If it's not done correctly, it will be a real problem for accidents and we don't want that.”
       Determining the road layout/width was a key Action Plan decision because it gives the project team a clearer idea of what they'll be working with in designing related improvements, such as underground utilities, storm drainage, curb and gutter and even a bridge replacement over Fountain Creek at Adams Crossing.
       A meeting in November had resulted in a citizen consensus against the use of raised medians along the corridor, believing such could limit access to any of the 100 businesses or residences along that stretch.
       In six to eight weeks, a public meeting will be scheduled to present proposals on how to “put the strategy and the plan together,” said Steve Murray, the study's project manager from the planning/engineering firm of Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig.
       Eventually, when construction designs for the study area are finalized, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) has about $12 million available. Because the work is on the new RTA list, work can't start until January 2015; meanwhile, the study's 10-month saga is due to end in two months. However, County Commis-sioner Sallie Clark said that additional funds could be provided earlier by the Colorado Department of Transporta-tion (CDOT) as part of a related deal to turn over its maintenance of the corridor to local entities.
       The Jan. 17 meeting, held at the Westside Community Center, attracted more than 50 people. Project team members led off the traffic-lane effort by revealing their group critique of the three different lane types and defined the nine-point system they used for scoring.
       The nine points themselves had evolved from earlier Action Plan public meetings, as part of a project-team effort to identify the “community values” that people place on the corridor.
       Attendees then broke up into three random groups, with each one getting a chance to review all three candidates (three, four or five lanes). To the pleased surprise of the project team members, citizens were more critical than even they had been of the four- and five-lane ideas, particularly in terms of the community values of safety, environmental impacts, livability and corridor mobility.
       One issue still hanging fire is bike lanes, which some people favor and some do not. Krager said a decision is still not made, but noted that bicyclists will use the road in any case (and are entitled to do so under law), but they tend not to take over traffic lanes if they have clearly marked bike lanes of their own.

Westside Pioneer article