Study of avenue west of 31st to resume

       After a six-month hiatus, the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) is gearing up again.
       The resumption was made possible by a $500,000 infusion from the Colorado Department of Transporta-tion (CDOT), which was formally approved Oct. 1 by the El Paso County Com-missioners. Hired back as consultants at the same meeting was the firm of Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig (FHU), which had served in that role in the first planning phase from summer 2012 to spring of this year, when a grant of $300,000 from CDOT ended.
       WAAP is a multi-government effort involving the county, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs to upgrade Colorado/Manitou Avenue between 31st Street and Manitou's Highway 24 interchange - an area sometimes called No Man's Land because of its years of infrastructure neglect. About $12 million in construction funds will become available in 2015 through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA).
       “It's a real important step forward,” Commissioner Sallie Clark (also a Westside resident and business owner) said of the new CDOT allocation, which is an advance on the overall $2.6 million the state is to pay in handing off future maintenance of that part of the avenue to the county or Colorado Springs. “We had to be sure the dollars were there. I'm excited that we're moving down the road, as they say.”
       No public meetings are planned right away, but they were part of the first phase and will also be key to the upcoming WAAP process, according to FHU lead Steve Murray. He described the first phase as having been mostly planning, whereas the upcoming effort will enable a more precise “preliminary design.”
       The main decision in the first phase was determining that the current configuration of four lanes with no turn lanes should be changed to two lanes with a center turn lane between 32nd Street and Beckers Lane. This means less width needed for vehicles, leaving room for to-be-determined amenities such as sidewalks, streetlights, bus stops, bicycle lanes and/or landscaping.
       A key decision looming is whether to shift the roadway slightly to the south between Ridge Road and the avenue bridge over Fountain Creek at Adam's Crossing. Such a shift (requiring right of way purchase) would allow a less puzzling intersection fix at Ridge/Colorado, which is to get a stoplight but is now scarcely 50 feet from the Ridge/Pikes Peak Avenue stop sign.
       Adding another twist to that decision, citizens participating in the first phase expressed concern about taking too much private property for the project, Murray pointed out.
       As for the bridge, it is slated for replacement, but after the problems with high creek flows last summer (mainly caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar), consideration is being given to raising it, which would affect other design aspects, Murray explained.
       Other issues he identified include finding space for the Midland Trail (which now has a gap between Ridge and the bridge), random drainage problems; the short, “very strange” tangent street off the avenue at Columbia Road; what to do about parking; and whether bike lanes should be marked or unmarked.

Westside Pioneer article