7 Westside projects in transportation plan

       A scaled-back version of the long-discussed Centennial Boulevard extension is one of seven transportation projects slated for the Westside if a proposed city-county Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) is approved by voters in November.
       The Westside would also be part of the RTA's $172 million city-wide street resurfacing/curb and gutter program, which would repave every street in town over 10 years and fix deteriorated curbs and gutters, according to Craig Blewitt, Colorado Springs transportation planning manager.
       County-wide, some $444 million in road and transit upgrades are on the RTA list, he said.
        Under a proposal by city, county and business leaders, the improvements would be funded by a new, 1-cent sales tax that would be reduced to .45 cent to cover ongoing maintenance after the initial 10-year span.
        The RTA plan should be seen as “a community question,” according to Dan Stuart, a Manitou Springs resident who is leading the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce's advocacy of the plan. “What do we want the future of the community to look like?”
       The next steps will involve building a “community coalition to move this issue forward to the ballot in November,” Stuart told the Westside Pioneer. “In the shorter term, we will work to get a consensus to bring back to the city and county about the specifics on the RTA. Some (elected) members wanted more information and a better idea of how the community feels.”
        The tentative list in the city was proposed by the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board that City Council created in fall 2002. The final determination of RTA projects to go before the voters will be made by City Council and the Board of El Paso County Commissioners - probably by August so as to make the November ballot, Blewitt said.
        Below are capsules on six of the proposed RTA projects. (Information about the seventh project, the Centennial Boulevard extension, is in the story at right.)
       * Widen Fillmore to six lanes from Centennial to I-25, $4.8 million. Blewitt said this would be tied in with Centennial- Fontanero by making it easier to get onto this steep section of Fillmore. Now, he said, “especially at evening peak hours, you can't even get out of some of the commercial driveways.” The cost would also include right-of-way acquisition and slope stabilization, he said.
       * Expand road cut on the north side of Uintah Street to accommodate a sidewalk and a bike lane between Mesa Road and Cooper Street, $900,000. The work would also require a retaining wall to keep mud flows from the sidewalk and street, he said. The route gets foot traffic to Uintah Gardens from Colorado College as well as from nearby Mesa Springs neighborhood, he said.
       * Upgrade Forge Road/ Garden of the Gods Road intersection, $430,000, to improve general traffic flow on Garden of the Gods.
       * Upgrade to Chestnut Street/Garden of the Gods Road $375,000 (same reason as Forge Road intersection).
       * Replace 25th Street bridge over Fountain Creek, $350,000. The two-lane bridge, built in 1915, has fallen below acceptable levels of structural deficiency, according to Blewitt. “Typically we expect about 50 years of life out of a bridge,” he said. “So this one has done well to last as long as it has.”
       * Left turn at the Navigators access from 30th Street, $60,000. Some road widening would be needed to make space. The safety issue is evident in that “people put on their turn signals 1,000 feet in advance. You don't see that too often in town,” Blewitt said.

Westside Pioneer article