CDOT provides bevy of facts about area roads, air, quality of life in I-25 EA

       Remember when I-25 was free and clear, any time of the day?
       Out of a tidal wave of statistics in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Environmental Assessment (EA), here are probably the best ones to explain why that has changed:
       When I-25 through Colorado Springs opened in the early 1960s, it carried 8,500 vehicles a day. Today, those same four lanes (six in a couple of segments) carry more than 100,000.
       We can't even blame all the traffic on visitors. Here is an excerpt from the EA: “From analysis of this traffic pattern it has been determined that through the congested part of central Colorado Springs, the vast majority (over 75 percent) is made up of local trips, not interstate through traffic.”
       Here are some other information bits, extracted from the EA:
       * “The population of El Paso County was approximately 144,000 in 1960, and the City of Colorado Springs had approximately 70,000 residents. In terms of population, the Colorado Springs was smaller than the City of Pueblo was in 1960, when I-25 was opened through both cities (Today, Colorado Springs is about three times the size of Pueblo). Interstate 25's construction did displace homes and businesses, but the roadway paralleled already existing linear barriers in the form of freight railroad tracks and Monument Creek…”
       “A study that ultimately led to the alignment of I-25 in its current location had considered other alternative alignments, including one on the eastern edge of development, Union Boulevard. However, like most other 'big' cities, Colorado Springs chose to have the freeway built to provide convenient access to the central business district downtown…”
        * “Currently, the Pikes Peak Region is in maintenance status for carbon monoxide, and is an attainment area with respect to lead, sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and ozone. However, the region's designated air quality planning agency - the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government - has concern about a trend of increasing readings of ozone recorded since 1996. If the trend in ozone continues, a violation of the ozone standard could be expected within the next five years…”
       * “I-25's expansion will contribute to a noisier city with an increasingly big-city look. The addition of 200,000 new residents in the region by 2025 will result in continued consumption of prairie land and displacement of wildlife. The amount of impervious surface area will increase, and improved stormwater management practices will be implemented to slow further degradation of the water quality and health of riparian habitats in the region. The [proposed I-25 work] is part of the much larger environmental trends in the region, but has been developed to avoid, minimize and mitigate adverse impacts as much as possible…”
       * “Analysis of hourly traffic data for an entire year (1998) indicated that the hours of the day with the highest traffic volumes are from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays…”
       * “The [proposed I-25 work] would reconstruct the following interchanges (in north-to-south order): Baptist Road (Exit 158); North Gate Boulevard (Exit 156); the North Nevada Avenue and Rockrimmon interchanges (Exits 147 A and B will become interconnected); Fillmore Street (Exit 145); Bijou Street (Exit 142); and Cimarron Street (U.S. Highway 24, also called the Midland Expressway)…”
       * “The bridges where I-25 crosses over or under these arterial streets are typically about 45 years old, already at or approaching their design life. New interchange configurations planned at these locations… will be planned to accommodate future traffic demands projected to the year 2025...”
       * “An early part of the overall Environmental Assessment effort was the examination of 18 alternatives for transportation capacity to address I-25 congestion problems. These included several alternate routes (Powers Boulevard and other alignments farther east), a variety of transit system technologies including light rail, and various highway-widening options with or without reserved lanes. Key conclusions of this effort were that I-25's congestion problems cannot be solved by building capacity elsewhere and that within the highway corridor, transit options would not divert enough commuters from their cars to be able to noticeably reduce congestion. The analysis also looked at a “No Action” alternative, in which today's daily four hours of chronic congestion would deteriorate to encompass at least ten hours per day…”
       * “The Pikes Peak Region currently meets all existing national air quality standards. Increased air pollution in the region is anticipated due to the addition of more than 200,000 new residents in El Paso County by the year 2025. Computer modeling of carbon monoxide concentrations along the I-25 corridor at dozens of intersection locations indicates that no violations of the carbon monoxide standard are anticipated as a result of the proposed action. Vehicular emission rates actually decline for traffic at free-flow speeds, compared with the excess emissions that would result from stop-and-go congestion if capacity improvements were not made…”

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