Home Page

New medians a feature as Centennial reconstruction completed

       As the two-year Centennial Boulevard reconstruction project concludes, a prominent amenity - in addition to the smooth black pavement - is the new landscaped medians.

Dividing the four lanes of recently laid pavement is a new landscaped median on Centennial Boulevard in the area of Rialto Heights. View is north.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Fifteen feet wide and somewhat higher than their predecessors, they divide the four-lane roadway between Rialto Heights and Windmill Avenue and between Chesham Circle and High Tech Way.
       They “sit higher than the previous medians to help protect the plants from plowed snow and de-icing chemicals,” explained Ryan Phipps, the project manager for Colorado Springs Engineering. “We planted 38 trees (American lindens and Japanese ivory silk), 130 shrubs (evergreen and deciduous) and about 550 grasses and perennials.”
       In all, the $9 million reconstruction project, funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA), has rebuilt about 1˝ miles of roadway from Garden of the Gods Road to Fillmore Street. Until then, parts of it had received nothing but patching for 25 years or more, according to the city.
       The paving work is done, with the last chores (alignment of manhole lids by Colorado Springs Utilities) planned for completion by mid-November, Phipps said.

A city rendering shows the striping plan for the reconstructed Centennial Boulevard in the locations where the landscaped medians have been built. The numbers state the width in feet for each use. The word "buffer" refers to a 3˝-foot-wide space designated between each traffic and bicycle lane.
courtesy of Colorado Springs Engineering

       The contractor is Kiewit Infrastructure Co.
       The project started in August 2016. Most of that time, except for a few months last winter, the work zones have routinely reduced traffic to one lane each way.
       Going into the project, an issue for the residents of the adjacent Holland Park neighborhood was the medians. For years, they had been in place along most of the roadway, including sections with mature trees between Chesham and Windmill. However, city engineers reported problems with drainage and maintenance.
       The neighborhood sentiment was mixed. Some complained that the medians blocked access from side streets, forcing too many U-turns (about 80 properties were affected that way, a city study found). Others liked the aesthetics and/or said that medians slowed traffic and made street crossings safer for schoolchildren.
       The city eventually decided to remove all the old medians and - seeking a compromise with the public - to put in new ones, though in fewer places.
       The only segment that's a lot like before is the commercial area between Garden of the Gods Road and High Tech Way, which again has a concrete median.
       From High Tech to Chesham, where the road starts to become residential, there's a new landscaped median, except for a space allowing access from the one side street (Star View).
       From Chesham to Windmill, which had been divided by a landscaped median, it's all pavement now, allowing the desired freer access from the side streets along that segment.
       From south of Windmill to north of Rialto Heights (a mostly uphill grade), a landscaped median has been constructed. No access streets are on either side, and the new median provides a “gateway” for northbound traffic approaching Holland Park, Phipps has said.
       From Rialto to Fillmore, the old concrete medians have been removed. According to Phipps, they had been an issue, in large part because it's easier to plow snow without them, and their absence means "no access restriction" for the future hospital opposite the King Soopers.
       Here is detail from Phipps on the landscaped medians' watering design: “The medians are being watered by a drip irrigation system that is set up with a timer that will automatically control the irrigation. The irrigation is metered to only deliver as much water as the plants need. Any excess water (rain/ snowmelt)… will make its way to the storm drain system by way of underdrain pipes.”
       Other work on the Centennial project has included:
  • Reshaping of the road crown.
  • Realigned (and in some cases replaced) underground utilities and storm drains.
  • Curb ramps and repairs of existing sidewalks.
  • Construction of missing sidewalk segments.
  • Restriping to allow 5-foot-wide buffered bike lanes (a 3˝-foot separation from the 11-foot-wide traffic lanes).
  • Improved access to Sinton Trail from the west side of Centennial Boulevard.

    Westside Pioneer article