PPACG board vote opens door for revisions to 2035 forecast

       Disputed future traffic projections could be changed down the road, under a vote by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) board April 11.
       The board accepted what is known as the Draft 2035 Small Area Forecasts, while adding the caveat that the results are “subject to periodic 90-day review” which could incorporate new findings.
       The projections, modeling traffic in the years 2008 to 2035 based on expected economic and population growth, will be used in justifying transportation expansions (including Westside Highway 24) in the three-county area for which PPACG provides regional planning support.
       The 90-day stipulation fulfilled a request from Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), who has been critical of several of the draft's findings. The added review time “will assist our organization with verification of this important planning document as it relates to the Westside growth patterns and data,” Clark said in a memo to the board. “This opportunity is vital to the proposed Highway 24 improvements whose traffic modeling should be based on a defendable foundation of accuracy.”
       Also supporting the added time was the city of Fountain's representative, alleging there are problems with the 2035 economic development projections for the town.
       PPACG staff expressed dissatisfaction with the 90-day rule. In a prepared statement, Transportation Director Craig Casper and Regional Economic Planning Manager Aaron Klibaner predicted it would cause delays and extra work for staff and board and “invalidate portions of the Regional Transportation Plan process, which would necessitate that those portions of the plan be started over and redone.”
       County Commissioner Sallie Clark, one of the county's representatives on the PPACG board, made the motion that included the 90 days. “I said I wanted them (staff) to work with the city of Fountain and with OWN, in conjunction with OWN's recommendations, and to work with (the appropriate citizen committees),” she said. She also volunteered to participate in that process.
       In his memo to the board, Welling Clark pointed out several “issues that have not been addressed.” These included a surprising 4,000-plus job increase in Manitou Springs, which would mean the town “will have more jobs (6,334) than residents (5,000)” in 2035. Also showing a startling job growth was the upper Skyway area, which is “primarily residential zoning,” Clark said.

Westside Pioneer article