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EDITOR'S DESK: Westside Avenue Ac... oh, call it Adams Crossing!

       By Kenyon Jordan

       To start off this time, I'd like to salute the engineers designing the Westside Avenue Action Plan for earnestly tackling some very interesting reconstruction challenges.
       We don't have an article on it at this time, because nothing is visibly happening yet - no final designs, no meetings seeking direction from citizens, no contractor hired and no construction. But behind the scenes, those engineers (city and county and hired consultants) are doing all kinds of things. These include talking to every

property owner along that 1.4-mile stretch; keeping all three government entities happy (Colorado Springs, El Paso County and Manitou Springs - no easy task); planning underground utility lines and storm sewers for a street (Colorado/Manitou Avenue) that's never had them; and figuring how to build a new roadway bridge while keeping the old one open.
       To top it off, as project consultant Steve Murray explained in a recent presentation, when do you do the work? On the Fillmore and Cimarron interchange projects, contractors often deploy at night to affect traffic as little as possible. Except in No Man's Land - or the Adam's Crossing area, as we'd like to see it called, for previously explained historical reasons (see this Westside Pioneer article) - many of the businesses are motels. Nighttime is when their customers want to sleep!...
       I've read all these Big Media stories about whether the “hospital provider fee” should or shouldn't be under TABOR, yet not a single one has raised what seems like an obvious question: Why is the state even justified in collecting such a fee? It doesn't pay for any service. Sounds to me like just another reason for the rising costs of health care…
       At a recent Avenue Task Force meeting, Colorado Springs Police representatives described a “backpack mafia” of increasingly aggressive younger panhandlers they're encountering this year, working in groups and selling drugs. Meanwhile, some locals on compassion overload keep moaning that the few laws we have left are a “crackdown on the homeless.” After listening to the police presentation, task force member Bonny Lapora expressed the wish that people could just work together in a reasonable way for a better community. To which Police Lt. Jeff Jensen responded, “But then you wouldn't need cops”...
       One rarely noted political phenomenon in recent years is the city's push for bike lanes on major streets. It's never even allowed to be debated. An example is West Colorado Avenue, which currently has the No Man's Land (er, Adams Crossing) project and the two-laning plan through Old Colorado City. Two years ago, because the right-of-way width is so tight through Adams Crossing, bike lanes were to be discussed, pro and con, at a future public meeting. That never happened; yet somehow bike lanes wound up in the plan.
       In OCC, the original proposal by business people was for two traffic lanes, diagonal parking and a middle lane. But the city axed the middle lane to make room for bike lanes. There is to be a public meeting at some point, but I'll guarantee you right now that the bike lanes will stay, no matter how many people argue that there are less-busy parallel streets and even the Midland Trail. And using the term, “spandex mafia,” won't help either.
       So why is this happening? Bike users are among the most politically active groups in town. And there is truth to the old adage that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Besides, we're the Olympic City, so there is that.
       But here's the curious part: According to the city's new bicycle planner, Colorado Springs has never officially counted the number of cyclists using West Colorado. You'd think, if city officials are going to be so insistent on this point, they would at least have data to back them up...
       And finally, if after reading any of the above, you feel depressed - well, I hope not, but here's something I just read that might lift you up. Recent research has shown that red wine and chocolate are good for you. Here's to science.

(Posted 5/18/16; Opinion: Editor's Desk)

       Kenyon Jordan is the editor of the Westside Pioneer.

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