Councilman: Send extension traffic down Van Buren
Leigh proposal would benefit his neighborhood

       Broadview Place is a long cul-de-sac off Mesa Road with 24 single-family homes whose market values and/or sale prices typically range between $400,000 and $500,000.
       Chestnut and Van Buren, running through the Mesa Springs area, are neighborhood streets with a mix of single-family and multi-family residences and businesses; the single-family homes mostly sell for less than $150,000.

Deer graze between houses on Broadview Place. The existing, unopened Centennial Boulevard can be seen in the distance.
Westside Pioneer photo

       One thing the Broadview and Chestnut/Van Buren areas have in common is nearness to the planned Centennial Boulevard extension, across currently open land between Fillmore Street and the Fontanero/I-25 interchange. Broadview is west of the anticipated roadway, Chestnut/Van Buren east of of it.
       City Councilmember Tim Leigh, who owns one of the Broadview Place homes, said at a City Council meeting Feb. 13 he doesn't think the extension is needed and is worried that his area will be “impacted” if it's built all the way through. Instead, he suggested that the city give up on the project once it's built from Fillmore to Van Buren and then look at funneling the extension traffic down Van Buren to Chestnut.
       Kathleen Krager of City Traffic Engineering responded at the meeting that while the original reasons for the extension, (which was originally planned in the '80s), may have changed, it is still needed, in large part because of the Veterans Administration clinic that's to be built by 2014 at Fillmore and Centennial. Also, engineers believe that the extension would attract many of the vehicles that now clog Fillmore/I-25 to use Fontanero/I-25 instead.

The current barricade at Van Buren Street and Centennial. Broadview Place homes can be seen on the ridge in the background.
Westside Pioneer photo

       As for diverting extension traffic down Van Buren to Chestnut, Krager said that would make the homes along those streets - many of them close to the roadway and with driveways backing onto it - “basically uninhabitable.”
       The subject of Centennial came up as part of a presentation by Krager to council about key projects that are envisioned for a renewal of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) program and its 1-cent sales tax, which otherwise will sunset after 2014. The plan is to put “PPRTA II,” as it's nicknamed, before the voters in November. “I think Centennial remains an important missing link in our system that we need to finish,” Krager said. “I think once it's finished you'll scratch your head and go, 'How did we live without that all those years?'”
       Regarding the design for the extension, she told Leigh the segment nearest to Broadview Place will be “below grade quite a bit… which will help with noise impact and that type of thing.” A thumbnail plan description in the RTA project spreadsheet states that the project will “include bike lanes, pedestrian facilities with pedestrian access to Sonderman Park from Mesa Springs neighborhood [and] noise walls/berms adequate to shield Sonderman Park and Mesa Springs Neighbor-hood from excessive noise.”
       But Leigh appeared unconvinced. He proposed taking the $10.4 million that's budgeted for the extension in PPRTA II and instead putting it into improvements in the West Colorado Avenue area known as “No Man's Land, which he described as having crime issues and needing “immediate attention.”
       Leigh admitted at the meeting that “full dislosure, I live in the area and am impacted by it and so are many of my neighbors. So I am less than arm's length from this question.” He asked Krager, “Have you looked at the evaluation of going on Van Buren? I'd like to have you respond to that so I can respond to several of my constituents.”

Tim Leigh

       The extension is currently built almost all the way between Fillmore and Van Buren (close to a mile), with its final link tentatively set for construction this year by the MVS group, which is planning a housing subdivision in the vicinity. None of the Centennial portion from Van Buren to Fontanero (a little over half a mile) has been built yet.
       After the meeting, asked how much the Van Buren/Chestnut traffic numbers would increase if Leigh's idea were carried out, Krager estimated that those streets would get “easily double or triple” their current totals, which are now about 1,000 a day for Van Buren and 4,000 for Chestnut. “We don't want that to happen,” she said.
       She said that the four-lane extension, when completed to Fontanero, is likely to see 15,000 to 17,000 vehicles a day.
       Because of the potential for “cut-through” traffic, the city actually put in writing a pledge to Mesa Springs several years ago not to open Centennial to either Mesa Valley Road or Van Buren Street until it was built all the way from Fillmore to Fontanero, Krager noted.
       This pledge was understood by previous Mesa Springs Community Association boards, but the board has changed faces completely in the past year. Current President Barbara Novey, who was out of town and contacted by e-mail, said she believes “the majority of Mesa Springs residents” are opposed to the extension and “have wondered for years why not just connect to Van Buren and to Chestnut.”
       Told about this response, Krager said she has “attended quite a few meetings in Mesa Springs, but none in the past year.” She said she will schedule neighborhood meetings there again when the project gets “closer to being funded.”

Westside Pioneer article
Property value data courtesy of Patty Strauch