3-month suspension for city’s RTA projects

       In the wake of a Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) vote Dec. 9, the Colorado Springs Engineering Division has eliminated 13 staff positions and is “competitively selecting a private-sector consulting firm to manage its PPRTA capital projects,” according to city spokesperson Sue Skiffington-Blumberg.
       In the meantime, the financially strapped city is “temporarily suspending” its RTA transportation projects, she said. The delay is expected to last about three months. That's the time needed “to go through the RFP [request for proposals] process and hire a firm,” Blumberg elaborated. “So mid-March to late March is the target.”
       The city's list of projects on hold includes two Westside safety projects at Highway 24 intersections: at 21st Street (which was to have started in late 2009) and at 26th Street (2011).
       An RTA board majority, believing the agency's administrative costs should not be expanded, narrowly rejected a request Dec. 9 that the RTA pay the city's roughly $1.2 million RTA-related project-management costs in 2010. With the city no longer able to cover that expense from its general fund because of budget cuts, City Engineer Cam McNair advocated continued use of his staff as the most cost-effective RTA strategy. Otherwise, he said the job losses and project delays would occur.
       Project managers work with contractors on such issues as budgets, schedules, communications, permits, legalities and technical specifications.
       A list of suspended projects citywide also includes Proby Parkway, Austin Bluffs Corridor (Nevada Avenue to Academy Boulevard and Barnes Road to Old Farm Drive), Fillmore and El Paso streets intersection, Vincent Drive Bridge at Cottonwood Creek, Vincent Drive Extension and Hancock Avenue Bridge at Templeton Gap Floodway. Others are safety projects at Platte Avenue (between Hancock Avenue and Union Boulevard), the Eighth Street/Arcturus Drive/Ramona Avenue intersection and the Las Vegas and Royer streets railroad crossing.
       The RTA project suspension does not affect the Woodmen Road project since the majority of that funding is from the federal stimulus program, the release states.
       The RTA is funded by a 1 percent sales tax that was approved by voters in 2004.

Westside Pioneer/press release