RTA board hears about No Man’s grant possibility

       A potential funding source has been identified for public improvements to the West Colorado Avenue area known as “No Man's Land.”
       In a joint presentation to the Dec. 7 meeting of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board, El Paso County Transportation Director John McCarty and Colorado Springs Engineer Cam McNair said the RTA would have a good chance of obtaining a grant from a new Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) program that will have $10 million available for seven years, starting in 2007.
       The main stipulation in CDOT's Maintenance Incentive Program would be that the agency or agencies getting the grant would have to agree to provide future road maintenance instead of CDOT. The avenue would qualify for a CDOT grant because the avenue is Business Highway 24 (a U.S. Highway maintained by CDOT) west of 31st Street.
       The roughly 1 ˝-mile avenue area between 31st and the Manitou/Highway 24 interchange has been called No Man's Land in large part because of government infrastructure negligence - including missing sidewalks, curbs, gutters or up-to-date drainage - even though Manitou, Colorado Springs and El Paso County have jurisdiction along some parts of it. Manitou has recently taken action to form an urban renewal authority that could fix some of those problems through potential public-private partnerships inside Manitou city limits, and the city and county have done a preliminary study identifying about a quarter-million dollars worth of needed avenue improvements east of Manitou.
       Manitou Springs Mayor/RTA board member Marcy Morrison questioned if her town could afford a highway maintenance bill. McNair said he believed the RTA's maintenance fund could be tapped for that purpose. Also, McCarty noted, any upgrades would make that part of the avenue into an “entirely brand new road, so there would be no real maintenance need for at least 10 years.”
       He added that the CDOT program “is a unique opportunity for the three entities (Colorado Springs, county and Manitou) to work together cooperatively.”
       The RTA board took no action on the proposal, but Colorado Springs Vice Mayor/board member Larry Small said he believed it could be taken up by the volunteer task force for No Man's Land that is being formed through the City Manager's Office. “This would be one of those to be evaluated,” he said. “And I hope there will be others.”
       Sallie Clark, a county commissioner and board member who has pushed for action on the area, which is in her commissioner district, applauded the staff effort. “It's a dangerous place for people to try to walk,” she added, reiterating her willingness to serve on the task force.

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