Hwy 24 open house in Woodland Park Feb. 28
Commuters’ comments to count same as Westsiders’

       An open house on the state-proposed widening of Westside Highway 24 is scheduled in Woodland Park Tuesday, Feb. 28.
       The 5-8 p.m. presentation at the Ute Pass Cultural Center will be the same as that provided Jan. 26 at the West Inter-generational Center, according to Kyle Blakely, a public communications consultant in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) planning process.
       The Woodland mayor had asked for the CDOT presentation because so many of his city's residents - about 50 percent of the workforce - commute to Colorado Springs, Blakely said. Woodland Park is located on Highway 24, about 12 miles west of Colorado Springs.
       Comments will be taken from the attendees, just as they have been at West Center open houses. Asked if the comments would be weighted because they will come from commuters, not Westsiders directly impacted by highway construction, Blakely answered in the negative. “There's no real way to weight it,” he said. “If you live two blocks from the corridor, should your vote count more than someone four blocks away?”
       He elaborated that in any case the final widening decision will not be based on public opinion. “This is not a democratic process,” he explained. While the state wants to know the extent of public support, “that's just one of the criteria for Level 3.”
       Level 3 is the CDOT term for the current stage of the process, in which state engineers have presented two basic build alternatives - freeway or expressway - and (on Jan. 26) several options within those two. (Note: These can now be viewed at the website: www.us24west.com).
       A CDOT document listing the Level 3 criteria shows four main headings: Community Values; Safety, Accessibility and Mobility; Environmental; and Implementation.
       “Level of support from the community” is one of five subtopics under Community Values and among 25 subtopics in all.
       A date for the next Highway 24 open house at the West Center has not yet been scheduled, but will probably be late March or early April, Blakely said.
       Depending on which options are decided on, construction could roughly double the width of the current highway, remove undefined numbers of homes and businesses - chiefly near the intersections and the Manitou interchange - and include sound barriers along the highway, based on prior discussions with CDOT engineers.

Westside Pioneer article