$170K sought to enhance Bijou west of new bridge

       When the new Bijou Street interchange is complete, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) plans show it looking spiffier than the old structure, with brick effects, historic lighting, wider sidewalks, landscaping at either end and a sign identifying the proximity of the downtown. But that's still not enough to suit some community leaders, who are looking at ways to dress up the bridge even more because it is such a key access to the central part of the city.
       At an informal meeting last week that included city and county officials and downtown business leaders, a big part of the focus fell on the block of Bijou west of the interchange. County Commissioner/Westsider Sallie Clark spoke up for enhancements that would , include more flowers, shrubs and trees than CDOT calls for, plus brick pavers and a sign at the southbound on-ramp letting people know there's something in the other direction too.
       “We want people to at least know that it's the gateway into the Westside,” Clark said.
       The work would upgrade CDOT's already-planned small, new park at the northwest corner of Bijou and the bridge ramps; new parking area for El Paso County's Department of Human Services at the southwest corner; and median along Bijou up to Spruce Street.
       Of the total $184,000 estimated cost for the proposed enhancements, all but $41,000 would be spent west of the bridge, plans show. Such work would potentially balance out the new bridge's aesthetic aspects, which are now scheduled mostly to its east - primarily because the Downtown Partnership (a group of businesses from that area) had worked with CDOT and the city early in the project and even donated some money towards that end.
       Clark offered an excuse for a corresponding lack of involvement from the Westside (which lacks an advocate entity with paid staff such as the Downtown Partnership). “We're not always so aware of opportunities,” she said.
       The only hold-up to getting the work done is that there's no known source of public or private money, other than about $14,000 that reportedly can be applied from the county.
       The attendees left the meeting agreeing to meet again in February. With the interchange not slated for completion until October, no immediate action is necessary.

Westside Pioneer article