Next step: ‘Fatal flaw’
Citizens get chance to see their Hwy 24 ideas posted before CDOT starts putting them to test

       Citizens brought up hundreds of ideas for bettering Westside Highway 24 during the first two public meetings on the issue in November and January. On April 14, they got to see the ideas they had proposed - categorized and posted on a big display board in the West Intergenerational Cen-ter.
       But people shouldn't get too excited just yet about their suggestions being cast in concrete (or pavement). The next stop in the planning effort - which is helping the Colorado Depart-ment of Transportation (CDOT) develop an environmental assessment (EA) for the project - is titled the “fatal-flaw analysis.”
       That means some of the ideas that “don't help us solve the problems of Highway 24” will be scrapped, Dave Watt, CDOT project manager, said after the April 14 gathering at West Center, attended by about 65 people. A table shows traffic and accident information for Westside Highway 24. 
Table courtesy of CDOT
       He described this analysis process as a “level-one screening,”
       The analysis will take place over the next couple of months, leading up to the fourth public meeting, sometime in June, at which the screening results will be presented. The format of that meeting has not yet been decided, but it will be “more detailed,” he said, discussing current conditions such as highway travel habits and traffic numbers.
       Clues about where the screening considerations might come from were provided at a slide presentation April 14 that addressed various issues potentially limiting highway changes. Examples included flood plains, hazardous-material sites (seven that are active within 1,000 feet of Highway 24), 12 current or potential historical properties within 1,000 feet, 13 animal species that may be present, and traffic counts for different segments of the highway through the Westside.
       One of the traffic-count slides, dated 2003, listed the average number of cars per day. The slide showed that about 30 percent more cars use Highway 24 between I-25 and 21st Street than they do west of 21st Street. The same slide gave an accident evaluation rating of “poor” to the segment between I-25 and Eighth.
       CDOT plans to gather updated traffic data in the months ahead, according to Dirk Draper of the consulting firm CH2M HILL, who presented the slide show. This effort will augment the state's goal of becoming steadily more detailed in its public meetings. Watt said this approach - “start at a high level and work down” - is in keeping with the National Environmental Protection Act.
       During the 2 ˝-hour open house/meeting, several representatives of CDOT and its consultants met with members of the public as they dropped in. Other than the slide show, which was repeated on the hour and lasted about a half-hour, people could just walk among the displays and ask questions of the transportation specialists.
       CDOT officials hope to have a draft EA developed by early 2006.

Westside Pioneer article