Hwy 24: April 13 meeting on Westsiders’ Option

       A citizens' meeting to discuss the “Westsiders' Option” - a less massive plan for upgrading Westside Highway 24 - will be Thursday, April 13 at the new Colorado Springs Police Gold Hill Substation, 955 W. Moreno Ave.
       Scheduled by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the substation's community room, next to the main lobby. According to OWN Vice President Welling Clark, the hope is to get citizen help in finalizing a plan that the Westside can rally behind. The plan would then be taken to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for feedback, prior to CDOT's next public meeting Wednesday, May 10 (see story, this page).
       OWN's idea for the Westsiders' Option stems from a March 9 Westside Pioneer article, titled “First do no harm,” which outlined a proposal for improving traffic flow through Highway 24's 6 ½-mile corridor between I-25 and Manitou Springs. The plan differs from CDOT's alternatives by not calling for home or business removals or large interchanges at 8th, 21st and/or 31st streets.
       A main feature of the new option is a full-access overpass at 14th Street. It would be situated on the undeveloped Gold Hill Mesa property to reduce impact on the established neighborhoods north of the highway and, with the help of shortcuts to 8th and 21st streets south of the highway, would relieve traffic at those streets' intersections with the highway, the plan suggests.
       However, this interchange idea has drawn some criticism from the established neighborhood around 14th, north of the highway. One resident, Doug Larkey, who lives at 14th and Bijou, said in an e-mail to the Pioneer: “I like your minimalist approach and I agree with most of what you have to say, but honestly, I'm too biased to support any huge changes to 14th Street.” Although 14th has on/off highway access now, Larkey said his concern is that “centralizing all the new traffic on 14th will ruin the quiet neighborhoods that run adjacient to or are in close proximity of 14th.”
       Clark said he is also aware of this concern and OWN is looking into engineering a solution that would address it.
       Meanwhile, the CDOT project team, having been given a copy of the Pioneer's initial plan, has begun reviewing it for strengths and weaknesses, according to Mary Jo Vobejda, project leader for CDOT's main consultant, CH2M HILL. “We took it very seriously,” she said. “We appreciate the time and energy the community is putting into this.”

Westside Pioneer article