City starting to decide on projects for RTA sequel

       Fifteen transportation needs on the Westside - with a rough pricetag of $72.3 million - are listed as candidates for funding should voters approve a second 10 years of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA).
       The 15 Westside items appear in an “unvetted” draft document from city transportation staff that suggests 123 potential RTA projects in all. The citywide “rough estimate” (the term used in the document itself; in some cases the term is “design estimate”) for all those projects is $1.22 billion.

A water-line upgrade on Centennial Boulevard between Fillmore and Garden of the Gods in March. A $7.3 million rebuild of that segment is a candidate for future Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funds.
Westside Pioneer file photo

       The biggest three proposed Westside projects are:
  • Remaking Colorado Avenue - including a bridge, drainage and utilities - through “No Man's Land” west of 31st Street ($15.1 million).
  • Upgrading Eighth Street to add “capacity” as well as better amenities for pedestrians and bicyclists between Highway 24 and Lower Gold Camp Road ($10 million).
  • Extending Centennial Boul-evard, a four-lane collector street, from Fillmore to Fontanero - city portion ($8.5 million).
           A northerly segment of Centennial, between Fillmore and Garden of the Gods Road, which was built 25 years ago, is also on the unvetted list, needing to be “rebuilt” because of asphalt, soil and drainage issues, at a rough price tag of $7.3 million, the list states.
           RTA funds available to Colorado Springs vary from year to year, depending on earnings from the agency's 1-cent sales tax, but it's evident that only a handful of those on the unvetted list can make the cut that goes to voters. For example, this year's RTA budget gives the city $22 million for new projects and $16.6 million for maintenance work. If those numbers stayed the same, the total available over a 10-year span would be “just” $386 million.
           At its monthly meeting July 26, the city's Bikeway Advisory Committee members heard a presentation about the RTA timetable from Kathleen Krager, a senior traffic engineer, including the point that recommendations are being sought from appointed boards like theirs, with City Council scheduled to consider the matter in November. She also told the committee that the goal is to have the finalized city projects - as well as those for the county and other municipalities in the county - itemized in the RTA “sequel” vote at the 2012 general election.
           The thinking is that a general election usually has the biggest turnout. Also, there's an advantage to seeking approval well before the sunset of the current 10-year RTA authorization in 2014. “If it doesn't pass [in 2012], we'll have a couple more shots at it,” Krager said.
           Voters would be asked to approve another 10 years for the RTA. The reason is, “10 years is about as far as you can go with a crystal ball,” she said.
           A list of A, B and C prioritized-projects was part of the 2004 vote, when voters approved the RTA for its initial 10 years. But after the economy went bad three years ago, it became evident to local leaders that only the A-list projects would get completed.
           The unvetted list does not show all the city's identified transportation needs. Some high-priority projects that are being funded other ways (such as the Cimarron/I-25 interchange) are not included, Krager pointed out.
           One project that appears to be left off the RTA sequel is one that was assigned “B” status in the current RTA project list - the intersection of Forge Road at Garden of the Gods Road. Krager said she would look into that project's status.
           The unvetted list sorts projects under the headings of Preservation/Restora-tion, Enhancement/Expan-sion, Transit, Moderni-zation/Safety and Non-motorization/Beautifica-tion.
           Below are the Westside candidates on the “unvetted” list, under their applicable headings and ordered by each one's project location, description and rough estimate (with need/justification and notes in parentheses, if provided):
           Preservation/Restoration
           West Fillmore Street, storm pipe at unnamed channel - corrugated metal pipe, $150,000 (deterioration, holes in CMP).
           Chestnut Street, storm pipe at Douglas Creek crossing, $1.22 million (deteriorated, holes, undersized).
           21st Street over Fountain Creek, bridge replacement, $1.76 million.
           Centennial Street, Garden of the Gods to Fillmore, $7.33 million (rebuild because of “expansive soils, insufficient asphalt structure, drainage problems with medians”).
           Eighth Street over Fountain Creek, bridge rehabilitation, $1.42 million.
           Cimarron (Highway 24) over Fountain Creek, bridge rehabilitation, $7.16 million (deteriorated deck, poor condition).
           Enhancement/Expansion
           Eighth Street; roadway, pedestrian, bicycle and capacity improvements from Highway 24 south to Lower Gold Camp Road; $10 million.
           Centennial Boulevard; extension from Fillmore to I-25/Fontanero, including noise barriers, bike lanes and pedestrian facilities with access to Sondermann Park from Mesa Springs neighborhood, $8.5 million. The city share of the extension is a C-list item in the current RTA.
           Modernization/Safety
           21st Street; government portion of cost to four-lane the road with bicycle, pedestrian and drainage improvements from Highway 24 to Lower Gold Camp Road; $6 million.
           30th Street corridor; construct paved shoulders/bike lanes, curb, gutter, sidewalks and intersection improvements from Fontanero Street to Centennial Boulevard, $7.5 million.
           West Uintah Street, I-25 to 19th Street; improvements to turn lanes and intersections, with curb/gutter, storm drainage system and installation of missing sidewalk; $5 million. Note: A current RTA B-list item addressed part of this work.
           Colorado Avenue; reconstruction of the avenue from 31st Street to Highway 24 (in Manitou), including curb, gutter, pedestrian and bike facilities, bridge replacement, transit enhancement, right of way, utility relocation and drainage, $15.1 million. (Note: This would be a partnership project with Manitou, El Paso County and the state).
           Midland Trail, from Ridge Road to Columbia Street, trail improvements on north side of Colorado Avenue, $1.5 million.

    Westside Pioneer article