CDOT open house to display Hwy 24 ‘Recommended Alternative’ Aug. 28 at West

       Just over two years since the last open house on the Westside Highway 24 expansion project, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has scheduled another one Thursday, Aug. 28.
       The time frame will be 5 to 7 p.m. As in the past, the location will be at the West Intergenerational Center, 25 N. 20th St. People can drop in at any point and ask questions.
       The session is intended to let people find out about elements of CDOT's Recommended Alternative for the expansion project between I-25 and Manitou Springs.
       A key reason it's been two years since the last open house is because state engineers and their consultants were waiting for regional approval of traffic forecasts for the year 2035, according to Kyle Blakely, a communications specialist on the CDOT team. One unexpected result of the forecast was less growth than previously anticipated on the Westside because by then the area should be completely built out, Blakely said. However, regional growth is expected to continue. Thus, the main changes from previous expansion designs are shorter lanes for traffic turning off the highway (because fewer than anticipated people will be living nearby), he said.
       The plans still call for full interchanges at 8th and 21st streets, at-grade crossings at 26th and 31st streets, a no-access overpass at Ridge Road and six lanes most of the way. According to regional road-building plans, the earliest the construction would begin is 2016 at Eighth Street, with another 10 years passing before the work farther west gets going.
       CDOT will also use Aug. 28 to line up volunteers for a citizens' “aesthetics committee” that is to meet regularly and plan such amenities as pedestrian overpasses, Blakely said. Other evaluations still to come will involve mitigating the project's impacts on wildlife, noise, historic properties, parks, economics and air and water quality.
       The state goal is to have a full Environmental Assessment ready for public review by 2010. Ultimate approval, which would greenlight federal funding (when such is available), will be needed from the Federal Highway Administration.
       For more information, call 477-4970.

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