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County: 'Nightmare' WAAP work on schedule


Scenes of heavy construction, such as this one on Colorado Avenue near Columbia Road, are not going away anytime soon as the Westside Avenue Action Plan rumbles forward. The Manitou Springs arch is even coming down (at least temporarily).
Westside Pioneer photo
       It may look like a digging contest on Colorado/ Manitou Avenue through No Man's Land, but each backhoe shovelful is bringing the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) that much closer to fruition.
       In fact, Dennis Barron, project manager for El Paso County, said he is hopeful that by Memorial Day next year the new Adams Crossing bridge at Columbia Road will be built and carrying traffic.
       “We could still find some wrinkles,” he cautioned in a recent interview, noting that a federal permit had not yet been obtained for bridge-related creek work, a key property easement needed to be negotiated, and in general “we have plenty of work to do.”
       In the meantime, motorists between 31st Street and Manitou Springs' Highway 24 interchange can count on delays for months to come and flaggers directing traffic.
       The work in the avenue started in December at the Manitou end and is proceeding steadily east. Crews with the contractor, Wildcat Construction, are replacing utilities as needed, installing storm drains (there were none before) and undergrounding electric lines.
       The project has been somewhat unique in that the contractor was hired before the property/easement ac-quisitions (more than 80 in all) were complete. The project team decided that such efforts could go on simultaneously.

At the work yard for the Westside Avenue Action Plan project is a collection of boulders that crews for Wildcat Construction have unearthed while digging deeply into Manitou/Colorado avenue. The one on the left is a good five feet tall.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Barron said that strategy hasn't caused any delays yet. Although many of the acquisitions have not been made, about a year's worth of work remains in the public right of way, he said, so that should leave ample time to get them all done. Most acquisitions are temporary, partial or both.
       Overall, Barron said Wildcat is still on schedule, despite a variety of obstacles in what he half-jokingly calls a “nightmare project.” In addition to rain delays, the avenue work has been hampered by such headaches as continually finding large boulders under the roadway, dealing with misplaced or incorrectly mapped utility lines and a backhoe that inadvertently snapped an overhead electric line, which forced an avenue restaurant onto a generator for several days.
       Those kinds of snags could eventually bump up the cost, but savings have also been found elsewhere, so Barron said he has no plans yet to go back to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) and ask for supplemental money.
       Primarily funded by the RTA, WAAP is a $30.9 million multi-government undertaking that started in December and is scheduled to continue through the end of 2018.
       The area has been nicknamed No Man's Land for many years, in large part because so much time has passed since significant civic upgrades occurred there.
       In related news… The historic arch that marks the boundary between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs is temporarily being taken down for WAAP work, but will be put back up this spring, a project spokesperson said.
       To learn more about the project, the website is westsideavenueplan.com; also, informal public gatherings called “Coffee with the Contractor” are scheduled at times. For more information, call the project “hotline” at 301-3801.

Westside Pioneer article