Watt: $250M figure ‘conceptual’

       When Dave Watt used the number - $250 million - in connection with Westside Highway 24 upgrades at a March 15 meeting, it was “not based on any alternative” that has been determined for the work, the project manager for Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) explained this week.
       “It was a conceptual-level planning figure for the corridor,” he said, based on typical costs for that amount of road, adding that they could end up higher or lower, depending on how the final plans come out.
       The March 15 meeting was scheduled as an informative session for area group and business leaders, as part of a continuing CDOT effort to spread the word about its ongoing meetings to plan upgrades to Westside Highway 24 (identified as a roughly 5-mile stretch between I-25 and Manitou Springs).
       No funds have yet been allocated for any project-related improvements, nor have costs been discussed at the two public meetings. This concerns Robert Willard, developer of Gold Hill Mesa, a 214-acre property along Highway 24 east of 21st Street that is master-planned for more than 1,000 homes as well as a business area. Willard's development group is being assessed $140,000 for Highway 24 improvements, based on a city formula for a project of his size.
       “I don't object to brainstorming,” Willard said in a recent interview. “But if CDOT isn't careful, it will get accused of just placating the neighbors and not listening to them. By not letting people know the scope and depth of the financing, they may be wasting a lot of people's time.”
       Previously asked about the lack of cost or other constraint-related information in the planning process to date, Watt has said the idea was not to limit citizen brainstorming efforts, but that as the meetings go on, more such details will come forward.

Westside Pioneer article