Promising outlook for latest ‘No Man’s’ grant plan

       A proposal for a new “No Man's Land” grant application has begun making its way through local government channels.
       The hope of government leaders from Colorado Springs, El Paso County and Manitou Springs is to obtain $300,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The money would be used to hire a consultant to prepare a concept plan for improvements along a multi-jurisdictional, publicly-neglected segment of Colorado/Manitou Avenue between about 33rd Street and the Highway 24 overpass in eastern Manitou Springs.
       The above governments have had bad luck in two previous, joint grant requests over the past four years, but Westsider/ County Commissioner Sallie Clark said in a recent interview that she thinks this one looks good. “I've spoken with Tim Harris [director of the CDOT region that includes Colorado Springs] and he said it would be fairly easy,” she said. “I think it's pretty exciting.”
       Under the timetable listed in a memo to Clark from Andre Brackin, the county engineer, a consultant could be hired by February 2012.
       The grant request would also include $25,000 for an analysis of upgrades to Rainbow Falls in Manitou.
       The money would come from federal funds allocated through CDOT's Region 2 office.
       The failed No Man's Land grant requests in the past have sought money for actual construction, based on studies by local government planners and engineers. However, in those requests, there had not been full agreement among the different jurisdictions on the area's precise needs, nor had there been a planning process that included public input, pointed out Kathleen Krager, a Colorado Springs transportation planner who has been involved with the grant preparations.
       The avenue west of 31st is Highway 24-Business. The ultimate goal for the three local governments is to take over the No Man's Land road-maintenance responsibility from CDOT - which would simplify the implementation of needed drainage, utilities, bridge and bike/pedestrian-related improvements. In their unsuccessful grant request to CDOT in 2008, the governments had offered to take over that avenue segment in exchange for $9.5 million (including a new bridge at Adams Crossing) from the state.
       But this time, “we're hoping that by better identifying the needs on Colorado Avenue [using the grant the governments hope to win], this could be the first step toward taking over the roadway,” Krager said.
       Another favorable output of a grant-funded study could be to make No Man's Land a candidate for future Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funding, Brackin's memo suggests.
       The next step for the grant proposal (in July, also according to Brackin's memo) is the regional Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments board, which includes elected representatives from Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and El Paso County.

Westside Pioneer article