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$700K city-contracted study to reveal 30th Street 'design alternatives' in March

       A $700,000 study for the City of Colorado Springs is looking at major upgrades to 30th Street - including where it crosses in front of the Garden of the Gods.
       After starting last spring, “the project team is on track to have design alternatives ready by March 2018,” spokesperson Lisa Bachman said in December.

A southward view along 30th Street shows how Mesa Road angles in. A safer intersection for the two streets is one of many considerations in the ongoing $700,000 study of the 30th Street corridor.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Passing just east of the Garden, the two-lane roadway is the only direct route west of I-25 (others have to jog in places) connecting Colorado Avenue to Garden of the Gods Road.
       The lead consultant is Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig (FHU) - the same company the city used to design the $30 million Westside Avenue Action Plan project that is rebuilding Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street.
       Public meetings for 30th Street have not yet been announced, but are expected to occur later in 2018, “during the preliminary design/alternatives analysis phase of the project,” as the city's project website states.
       A construction timeline also has not been determined, although the project website anticipates work starting as early as 2019. The city has in hand a $1.5 million stipend from the Pikes Peak Rural Transporta-tion Authority (RTA) for the design and a $7.1 million state grant for construction.
       However, with terrain issues, limited corridor space and evolving project priorities, it is too early to predict how far that money will go, explained Steve Murray, the lead planner for FHU.
       One possibility is limiting the target segment. Going into the study, the conceptual stretch was Fontanero to Garden of the Gods Road, but that could be reduced to Fontanero-Mesa Road, he noted.

A truck passes a southbound bicyclist on 30th Street. The current roadway lacks a shoulder or bike lanes, so passing a bike requires crossing into the oncoming lane. One of the goals of the 30th Street study is to widen the roadway to create paved shoulders. The photo's vantage point (from the Foothills Trail) also provides a sense of the hillside along the east side of 30th Street, which will likely need to be stabilized in some way for the road to be widened.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Based on a lengthy interview with Murray and Robin Allen (the project manager for the city), the top project goals are:
  • Giving 30th more of an “arrival” feel for people visiting the Garden of the Gods.
  • Improving problem intersections for 30th such as at Water Street, Gateway Road and Mesa.
  • Dealing with ungoverned on-street parking along dirt shoulders (narrow and washed out in places) for major events at the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center.
  • Correcting erosion problems (there are no storm drains).
  • Widening the roadway, not for additional lanes, but to create space for shoulders and bicycles.
  • Stabilizing the hillside that the road cuts into - and deciding whether to install retaining walls into the slope and/or support structures on the roadway's downhill side.
  • Making the corridor safer overall.
           30th Street improvements have been in the city's sights for at least a decade. As discussed in a 2012 Westside Pioneer article, the estimated costs have increased over the years - $566,000 in 2008, $3 million in 2009 and then $8.25 million as a B-list item when the RTA's capital improvement sales tax was extended by voters in 2012.
           Conceptual corridor distances varied in those project proposals. For example, the 2008 version was to be Fontanero-to-Mesa, while the B-list definition suggested the 30th Street work could go north all the way to Centennial Boulevard.
           Regarding the progressively higher estimated costs over the years, city officials have asserted that the earlier proposals for 30th did not delve into the kind of minute detail that the current study does.
           In earlier years, the city's impetus for corridor upgrades was to make room for bicycles; however, the $7.1 million state grant was awarded on the basis of 30th Street's importance as a connector for emergency vehicles, Murray explained.
           Despite the concerns about a narrow roadway and antiquated intersections, 30th Street does not show exceedingly high numbers of accidents. In addition, its roughly 10,000 vehicles a day (as measured in 2012) do not exceed the roadway capacity, Murray said, although he believes those numbers have gone up since then.
           Regarding funds, because 30th is on the B list and not all the A-list items are completed, the RTA board would have to decide whether to bump 30th up in priority if the city wishes to use its $8.25 million allotment in addition to the other funds.
           The City of Colorado Springs project website is coloradosprings.gov/30thstreet.

    Westside Pioneer article