State to explain Hwy 24 expressway plan at May 10 open house

       State engineers will talk about why they think an expressway widening, with major interchanges at 8th and 21st streets, will ease traffic on Westside Highway 24 at a public open house Wednesday, May 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the West Intergenerational Center, 25 N. 20th St.
       Also, in a nod to issues raised by a recently formed Westside citizens' task force, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) this week agreed to add a “traffic numbers” station to those previously scheduled for the gathering.
       The task force is questioning the traffic projections that CDOT has been using to decide its project scope, which would expand the highway to six lanes and include the removal of about 50 homes or businesses in any of the design alternatives. The group, an offshoot of the Organization of Westside Neighbors, has proposed a smaller-scale highway upgrade, with no interchanges, and an update on its findings will be provided at citizens' meetings May 4 and May 11 (see Page 9 for locations/times.)
       Also concerned about CDOT's plans have been Old Colorado City merchants, who have opposed an overpass at 26th Street that would eliminate the current access from the highway.
       The open house is the eighth in a series of public gatherings since fall 2004 on CDOT's $7 million study to research upgrades to Highway 24 between I-25 and Manitou Springs.
       The purpose of the open house, according to a project press release, is “to present the recommended build alternative and the results of Level 3 screening criteria, together with the next steps in alternative refinement.” According to Kyle Blakely, a project spokesperson, “screening criteria” refers to the ways CDOT and its consultants have scored the different alternatives that were posed last fall. Of the three - expressway, freeway or no action - the project team announced in April it is recommending the expressway alternative, chiefly because it leaves more flexibility for a more “neighborhood-oriented” roadway than a freeway would. The no-action scenario, required to be listed for planning purposes, was never a serious consideration, project team members have conceded.
       The different stations will be:
  • Station 1: Where We've Been - Process, Vision/Critical Issues/Level 1 Criterion, Open House Summaries
  • Station 2: Level 3 Analysis Results - Level 3 Criteria: What are they and what are the results. Why the Midland Expressway?
  • Station 3: The Recommended Build Alternative - the Midland Expressway, with description and typical sections
  • Station 4: Intersection options (Manitou Avenue, Ridge/High, 31st Street, 21st Street with 26th, and 8th Street and I-25 with 14th.
  • Station 5: Right of Way Information - Wilson & Company
  • Station 6: What's Next - process flow chart, information about the Environmental Assessment that the study is working toward
  • Station 7: How to Stay Involved - Community Outreach, Speakers' Bureau, Contacts, Web info Staying Involved
  • Station 8: Traffic Numbers - information on how future traffic projections have been figured.
           Attendees can also fill out comment sheets. An area with tables and chairs will be provided. The comment sheet may also be mailed in or be accessed on the project Web site.
           Since the scope CDOT perceives for the Highway 24 project became known last fall, attendance at the Highway 24 meetings has grown. Each of the last two meetings has drawn nearly 250 people.

    Westside Pioneer article