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Avenue right of way transfer marks 'major first step' in No Man's Land roadway rebuild

       A 1.4-mile section of Colorado/Manitou Avenue west of 31st Street now belongs to El Paso County.
       A formal right of way transfer from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) was approved by county commissioners at their Feb. 17 meeting.
       The effect should be a better maintained road over time, County Transportation Director Andre Brackin believes, but an immediate plus is a check from CDOT for $2.6 million, which will fund the remaining design work and the start of construction on a long-planned, major project in the area known as “No Man's Land.”
       “Now we can move ahead, without our hands tied,” Brackin said in a phone interview.
       Sallie Clark, a county commissioner and Westside resident, added the comment that the transfer marks "a major first step in moving forward with the improvements."
       Expected to start this fall, the roughly $16 million project will rebuild - and slightly realign in places - most of the recently transferred right of way. As part of that, updated utilities and storm drains will be installed
In a photo from a few years ago, a person walks along the snowy shoulder beside Colorado Avenue a short distance east of the arch that marks the limit line between Manitou and Colorado Springs. A consensus for the upcoming project is to enhance the pedestrian aspects, including sidewalks on either side.
Westside Pioneer file photo
and a new avenue bridge built over Fountain Creek at Columbia Road - an intersection historically known as Adams Crossing.
       Work is expected to last at least through 2016.
       The area has become known as No Man's Land, according to Brackin and other officials, because of years of inattention from the four government jurisdictions in that area. Properties on the north side of the avenue are in Colorado Springs (for the most part) while on the south side they're mostly in the county. Meanwhile, Manitou is to the west and CDOT has owned the right of way.
       As a result, “No one was watching carefully what happened to the road,” Brackin said. “The state mostly spent money on potholes and overlays. They would wait till the road was nearly disastrous before doing maintenance. That's what any jurisdiction does when it doesn't have enough maintenance money.”
       The project funding is mainly coming from $12.5 million approved by voters when the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's capital tax was renewed in 2012. In addition to the $2.6 million transfer money, CDOT gave the county a $1.3 million grant two years ago.
       That grant initiated a study, called the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP), in which the county has worked with Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and hired consultants on project details. Citizens had chances to weigh in at public meetings in 2013 and 2014, with the most recent held last April. Government officials and consultants have continued planning efforts since then.
       Brackin said another public meeting will likely be scheduled this spring, possibly before April. He said he expects it to be like an open house with displays and renderings showing where things stand, including “all the things people told us to plan for in the project” during previous meetings.
       County control of the entire 1.4-mile right-of-way segment will only last for the duration of the project. When it's completed, Brackin said the two cities will take over responsibility on their respective sides - Manitou to the west and Colorado Springs to the east.
       In Manitou, the transferred right of way goes west to about where the Loaf and Jug is. West of that, the state still has avenue right of way responsibility, Brackin said.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 2/22/15; Projects: No Man's Land)

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