Centennial Boulevard extension to Mesa Springs area looms
But city lacks funds to complete connector road to Fontanero interchange

       A year or so ago, the Centennial Boulevard extension seemed a long ways off. Now a significant portion of it is being built - and in the scenario that the Mesa Springs Neighborhood Association had most dreaded.
       The association's worry was that construction of the northern segment of the new, four-lane divided road just west of the older neighborhood might be completed by private interests between Fillmore and Van Buren streets before the city could pull together the estimated $11.6 million needed to build the southern segment from Van Buren to the Fontanero interchange at I-25. And that's what's happening.
       A recent check of the northern segment shows three properties between Fillmore and Van Buren. On two of these the road is under construction: the 44-acre Colorado Springs Health Partners (CSHP) medical complex just south of Fillmore and the 29-acre Indian Hills Village townhome subdivision just north of Van Buren.
       Indian Hills' quarter-mile is nearly done - unpaved but with median and streetlights in place - while CSHP is aiming for the end of this year.
       In between is an 11-acre parcel obtained in December by Continental Divisions, the Indian Hills developer. Steve Arnold of Continental Divisions has no immediate plans for construction, he said in a recent interview, but is studying the possibilities and hopes to have a plan ready sometime this fall.
       Under city policy, any private project occurring along the Centennial route must include construction of the portion of the road on that property.
       Although development schedules can be iffy, it's possible now that the road could be complete from Fillmore to Van Buren within two years.
       Once it's in place, the Mesa Springs nightmare is that area motorists will start using it as a shortcut - zipping from Fillmore to Van Buren or Mesa Valley Road - both of which will connect Centennial with Chestnut Street. Van Buren also goes past Pike Elementary School.
       Working in Mesa Springs' favor is City Planning's previously stated position that neither Van Buren nor Mesa Valley should be allowed to accept “cut-through” traffic from Centennial. “We are going to hold future meetings to discuss the extension of the road and the issue of cut through traffic with the Mesa Springs neighborhood,” City Planner James Mayerl stated in an e-mail this week.
       The $11.6 million Centennial work is part of the voter-approved Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA); however, it is a low priority, C-list item that, with rising construction prices, has no guarantee of ever getting funded, City Transportation Manager Craig Blewitt pointed out. “That's an issue,” he said. “We're not certain we're going to have the money.”
       Reiterating the neighborhood “cut-through” concern, Mesa Springs Neighborhood Asso-ciation President George Gravenstein said he plans to contact city officials regarding the apparently inevitable traffic situation.
       The association has previously asked the city not to open any of Centennial until it could be built all the way through.
       The 800-home neighborhood - located south of Fillmore, west of I-25, north of Uintah and east of Sondermann Park - opposed the entire Centennial concept for many years, finally settling for a compromise in which the city agreed to reduce the road footprint from three lanes each way to two. The city believes the road is necessary to ease the load on the Fillmore/I-25 interchange and handle traffic from developments such as Indian Heights. Several years ago, the Fontanero interchange was upgraded in an interstate project, and some homes were removed from the street west of the interchange.

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