Highway 24 Environmental Assessment goes before public

       Leading up to a public hearing Monday, June 11, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has released to the public its Environmental Assessment (EA) for a proposed major expansion of Westside Highway 24.

Graphic courtesy of Colorado Department of Transportation

       The hearing will be from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. - including a presentation from 5:30 to 6 - at the Community Partnership for Child Development office at 2330 Robinson St.
       The EA release is a milestone in the public planning process that CDOT started in 2004. The expansion is proposed based on traffic predictions that the current four-lane highway, slowed by at-grade intersections, will have continually worse traffic jams in the coming years.
       The document contains an executive summary, six chapters and nine appendices, detailing development plans as well as mitigation of construction impacts on traffic, noise, drainage, parks, historic properties and other areas.
       When finalized, the EA will be a formal document that goes to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for review. If the FHWA approves the EA, it will become the document used for construction; however, no funding has yet been appropriated for the targeted four-mile corridor between I-25 and Ridge Road.
       The public will have 45 days to comment on the EA. Copies are available on the Westside at the Old Colorado City Library, 2418 W. Pikes Peak Ave.; or the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments building, 15 S. Seventh St.; or online at coloradodot.info/projects/ us24west.
       The EA's basic expansion layout is like that of the “preferred alternative” that CDOT presented in 2010, calling for interchanges at 8th and 21st streets, six-lane at-grade intersections at 26th and 31st streets and an overpass at Ridge Road.
       Some of the other highlights:
  • “Approximately 78 acres of land would need to be acquired through acquisition of all or part of 109 parcels,” the Executive Summary states. “This includes 81 commercial, 3 mixed-use, 14 public, and 11 residential parcels.”
  • The historic Roundhouse building at the southwest corner of Highway 24 and 21st Street would be preserved.
  • Naegele Road, currently home to several businesses, would be eliminated because its right of way would be needed for the widening.
  • The bridge over Fountain Creek, which currently links 25th Street to Naegele, would be removed, with 25th becoming a cul-de-sac north of the creek.
  • The 14th street access for westbound highway users would be eliminated.
  • The Midland Trail (which currently uses city streets between 21st and 25th streets) would be given a permanent line along Fountain Creek.
  • Noise walls, between 15 and 18 feet in height, would be built on the north side of the highway between 11th and 14th streets, as well as in front of the the A-1 mobile home park on the south side of the highway around the 1500 block and in front of the residences on the south side of the highway on Red Canyon Place (just west of Red Rock Canyon Open Space).
  • Assuming a new interchange will also be built at I-25 (a project that's separate from the scope of the EA), the document calls for a “flyover” from the highway to carry eastbound drivers to the northbound interstate lanes.
  • CDOT will only fund Ridge Road as a no-access overpass; however, “others” could add ramps there, according to EA's “Proposed Action” map.
  • “Others” could also fund an overpass at 15th Street with an eastbound on-ramp and a westbound off-ramp, the map shows.
  • Another possibility for “others” would be to create a kind of frontage road south of the highway, connecting the Gold Hill Mesa development with Eighth Street.
  • With the interchange at 21st Street, the Prospector statue “will be relocated to a location along US 24,” the EA states.

    Westside Pioneer article