Home Page

New creek trail through Westside part of $42M-$118M regional nonmotorized proposal

       A proposed new trail connecting the Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs downtowns via the Westside is part of the draft Regional Nonmotorized Transportation System Plan that is now available for public review and comment.
       Following Fountain Creek the whole way, the 2.7-mile, 12-foot-wide trail would have an “approximate cost” of $2.35 million to $4.75 million, the draft states.
       It is one of 11 prioritized “regional routes,” as the draft calls them. The estimated cost to create all 11 is $42.78 million at the low end and $118.93 million at the high end.
       The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) will host a
The current Midland Trail includes an on-street section between 21st Street (shown above) and 26th Street. Regional Route 18, as proposed in the draft Regional Nonmotorized Transportation Plan, would create new trail along the creek between 21st and 26th. The photo was taken in 2012, when the sign was installed at 21st had just been installed.
Westside Pioneer file photo
public meeting on the plan Wednesday, April 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave.
       The comment deadline is May 10. Written by a Denver consulting firm with support from PPACG staff and volunteer proponents, the 168-page document can be viewed/commented on by going to walkbikeconnect.org. That website has also been used over the past year to collect comments and suggestions from citizens who support improved hiking/biking conditions.
       “The plan's goal is to make nonmotorized transportation a more attractive option by ensuring the region's on- and off-street bike system, trails, sidewalks, road crossings and other infrastructure are safe, connected, easy to use and well-maintained,” a PPACG press release summarizes, adding that “after public input is incorporated, the [PPACG] board will adopt it at its June 10 meeting to guide regional bicycle and pedestrian transportation improvements through 2040.”
       The PPACG is a federally recognized planning agency for the region, with membership from the governments in El Paso, Teller and Park counties. Elected officials representing those governments make up the board.
       Other than money that might already be allocated - as is the case for two pieces of the Westside route - no funding is currently available for plan implementation. However, the draft plan calls for collaboration by the local governments “to leverage funding” and lists several possible outside grant sources. And, PPACG staff have previously said that approval - adding it to the Regional Transportation Plan - will make the area eligible for federal funds.
       In addition, the draft suggests that “members of the public can help in the implementation of the plan through community action and lobbying decision-makers to ensure the development of the nonmotorized system stays at the top of investment priorities in the Pikes Peak region.”
       In October, the PPACG board approved the plan concept, including the prioritization of 10 corridors. An 11th, more regionally oriented corridor, has since
A table in the draft Regional Nonmotorized Transportation Plan illustrates how the authors believe Regional Route 18 (following Fountain Creek from downtown Colorado Springs to downtown Manitou Springs) meets the plan criteria.
Courtesy of Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments
been added because the first 10 were all within Colorado Springs, a draft-plan note explains. A total of 71 corridors were considered before narrowing it down to 11.
       The consultant/staff/ volunteers picked and prioritized nonmotorized corridors on the basis of their meeting, according to the draft-plan text, “one or more of the following criteria”:
       - “Fill in nonmotorized network gaps;
       - “Attract the heaviest use by nonmotorized modes through connecting people to places via the shortest corridor;
       - “Remove major barriers to nonmotorized transportation;
       - “Improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.
       - “Provide a regional link.”
       Under the safety criterion, a map table ranks the concern as "high - over 15 accidents per mile within the corridor."
       Each of the 11 prioritized routes also is given a specific “rationale.” Regarding the corridor through the Westside, the rationale states, “The route will create a quality nonmotorized link between the City of Manitou Springs, the Pikes Peak Greenway and downtown Colorado Springs.” Elsewhere, a draft table pledges (without elaboration) a benefit to Old Colorado City, as well as the Pleasant Valley and Indian Heights "communities," a mile or two north of the corridor.
       The Westside proposal is identified in the plan draft as “Regional Route 18.” A “demolition/ construction description” table states that the type of work would consist of “construction of off-road multiuse trail link including underpasses at each roadway, and connections to street level.”
       About two thirds of the route's estimated cost would be used to create the trail, the remainder to develop “enhanced crossings” at seven intersections, according to the draft plan. A more precise breakdown is not provided.
       Two already-funded pieces of what's proposed for Regional Route 18 are the Midland Trail crossing at Columbia Road and Colorado Avenue (part of the upcoming Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority infrastructure project on the avenue west of 31st Street), and the segment going west from the Greenway Trail under I-25 (part of the upcoming Cimarron interchange project).
       Other crossing needs, according to the draft, consist of an unspecified “crossing to the existing Midland Trail,” 8th Street, 21st Street and (in Manitou) El Paso Boulevard at Beckers Lane and El Paso at Manitou Avenue.
       Although the draft-plan text does not speak to it, an accompanying map implies that a large amount of Regional Route 18 would consist of existing trail. The map's trail line follows a now-private service road/trail along the creek through the Gold Hill Mesa subdivision, the Midland Trail from 26th Street into Manitou and the Creekwalk Trail in Manitou Springs.
       The map line also follows the creek in the area of Naegele Road between 21st and 26th. The Midland Trail had once been planned there, but City Parks decided instead to use public streets several years ago when easement agreements could not be worked out with private property owners. Potential easement issues for the proposed new route are not addressed in the draft plan.
       The draft does note that a possible “barrier to route development” would be “engineering and drainage requirements developing multiuse trail along Fountain Creek.” Plan maps show seven possible places where this might occur. Some appear to be in the same locations as the “enhanced crossings,” but the maps do not provide that detail.
       In addition to being chosen out of 71 route possibilities, the 11 prioritized routes in the draft are narrowed down by perceived urgency. The Westside route is among 4 of the 11 needed within a “short term,” the draft states. The others are represented as “short/medium,” “medium” and “long” (term). No target years are given.
       For more information on the nonmotorized plan, call the PPACG at 471-7080 x139, or e-mail travel@ppacg.org.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/12/15; Transportation: General)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)