Cimarron interchange identified as part of Ref D

       If voters approve Referenda C and D in the Nov. 1 election, a $50 million I-25 interchange over Cimarron Street will be added to the COSMIX project, according to plans.
       Craig Casper, transportation director for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), said the money would pay for all the interstate-related work, including the widening to six lanes and new on-ramps/off-ramps. Road improvements between I-25 and Eighth Street, anticipated from the Westside Highway 24 planning effort, would not be covered, he noted.
       Neither Cimarron/I-25, nor any specific transportation projects, are identified in a binding manner in the statewide referendum. But they are indirectly referenced where the ballot question says the state would be authorized to issue notes that would be used in part to “accelerate the completion of strategic transportation projects.”
       The list of these projects is contained in a Referendum D Appendix (provided in the 2005 State Ballot Information Booklet). The appendix does not identify El Paso County's projects by name, simply stating that El Paso would get “reconstruction of interchanges” valued at $91 million.
       A phone call to Casper confirmed that the Cimarron/I-25 project, as well as a $41 million upgrade for the Highway 16 access to Fort Carson, are the two interchanges intended in that appendix reference. “Every transportation planning region in the state was given a chance to prioritize projects,” he explained. Other local project candidates included the Powers Boulevard connector, a completion of the I-25 widening to Monument and the Fillmore Street/I-25 interchange. “These are all projects we know we need to do. We looked through them, at the different impacts and went back to the different entities and had discussions.”
       Initially, the state had limited El Paso County to $87 million, but local officials were able to convince the state to jack that up to $91 million, Casper said.
       The Cimarron interchange cost anticipates about a $10 million savings, he said, because it might cost that much more, if the project had to be started afresh by a new contractor, instead of - as envisioned - folding it in with the ongoing widening/interchange work by the COSMIX contractor, Rockrim-mon Constructors.
       Asked why the Cimarron and Highway 16 projects had not been suggested for the Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) project list when it went before voters last year, Casper said the main reason was that they are state/federal projects and RTA planners intentionally left those off because they did not want to have any projects approved locally, only to have the Colorado Department of Transpor-tation (CDOT) possibly come back later and veto them.
       Both Referenda C and D need to pass for the Cimarron project to be funded because D is tied to the passage of C, which seeks to relax certain restrictions on government spending in the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR).

Westside Pioneer article