Pioneer's top 20 Westside stories of 2016: numbers 1-7Editor's note: The article about story numbers 8-14 can be found at this link and the article about story numbers 15-20 and honorable mention at this link.
Sharing first for the second straight year are the Cimarron and (now complete) Fillmore interchange projects, both of which started in 2015. Other transportation-related stories in the Pioneer's top 10 are the Chestnut Street emergency bridge replacement (3), the long-awaited start of the No Man's Land/Adams Crossing project (5), the initial stage of the Centennial Boulevard reconstruction between Garden of the Gods Road and Fillmore Street (9) and the first year of 2C “road tax” work (10).
Non-transportation topics in our top 10 are the end of the annual car show in Old Colorado City (4), a quest to preserve the Mesa in the face of overall development (6), a proposed expansion of the Penrose-St. Francis hospital plan on the Mesa (7), and the relocation of Silver Key from the Westside (8).
1. (tie) - Fillmore and Cimarron interchanges at I-25.
Fillmore - Completed in July by SEMA Construction after a year and a half of work, the $15.1 million project upgraded an interchange originally built in 1960. The work featured two new bridges and two lengthened ramps, but the highlight was the region's first diverging diamond interchange (DDI), a cost-saving design in which
Cimarron - The old freeway bridge over Cimarron Street/Highway 24 was torn down in November, and work is continuing where it was to build the rest of the new bridge. I-25 traffic in both directions has been temporarily aligned onto the half that was built just west of it earlier in 2016. In January, contractor Kraemer North America plans to open the new northbound off-ramp (although it won't be set up yet with its eventual triple-left turn lanes) and the new southbound off-ramp. Also in progress this winter are the northbound on-ramp, the Cimarron bridge over Fountain Creek (just east of the interchange), pedestrian bridges over Monument and Fountain creeks and preparations for Cimarron Street to have four lanes again by June. Overall completion of the $113 million is anticipated by the end of 2017.
3. Chestnut bridge. City engineers - along with area drivers - breathed a sigh of relief Nov. 12 with the successful reopening of this busy frontage road between Vondelpark Drive and Ellston Street. It had been closed from August 2015 to November 2016 because of a collapsed underground stormpipe. In response to that, the city sped up the replacement process as much as possible, from design to
4. Last Good Times Car Show. For years, increasing city costs and regulations have made it harder for community groups to hold events in public parks and streets. Such issues were behind the decision to shut down the free, annual classic-car display in Old Colorado City after the last one Aug. 21, according to the car clubs that had sponsored it for 25 years. A telling fact was that the required cost for police presence had become greater than the money raised for the charity that had inspired the fundraiser in the first place. For the show, 400-some car owners from around the region would pay to display restored/unusual vehicles along Colorado Avenue between 23rd and 27th streets, with Bancroft Park rented out for a band, event coordination and award presentations. The shutdown announcement also raised questions about city priorities, when it later emerged that city staff's response to car club concerns about Old Colorado City
5. No Man's Land/Adams Crossing. This multi-government endeavor, which took over a decade to move from concept to final design (including a higher-than-expected cost of $30.9 million), at last broke ground in December and is slated to continue into late 2018. Early work is utility related. Also known by its government study name - Westside Avenue Action Plan - the project will redo a roughly 1.5-mile stretch of Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street. Changes will include a new bridge at Columbia Road (Adams Crossing), storm sewers and underground electric lines and (in places where they're missing now) sidewalks. Also planned are utility replacements, intersection upgrades with stoplights at Ridge Road and Columbia Road, the missing Midland Trail link and (when the project is done) two traffic lanes with a center lane instead of the current four lanes without turn lanes. A public meeting is scheduled Thursday, Feb. 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Colorado Springs Shrine Club, 6 S. 33rd St.
6. Mesa vision. In the last few years, land developers have begun taking a stronger interest in the one-time cattle-grazing area known as “the Mesa” - roughly defined as Mesa Road and Fillmore Street between Centennial Boulevard and Uintah and 30th Streets. When proposed projects started showing higher density and taller buildings, some nearby Mesa Road residents objected, citing city Comprehensive Plan language about preserving mountain views and integrating “natural features” into building projects. City Council agreed, reversing Planning Commission in February on a large, proposed retirement home south of Fillmore. A subsequent, well-attended citizens' meeting endorsed a “vision” for the Mesa that incorporated the preservation goals and urged their application in future Mesa land deals.
7. Penrose-St. Francis' Mesa plan. In 2015, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services gained City Council approval for a potentially 12-story hospital and other tall medical facilities on 50 acres northeast of Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street. In the fall of 2016, P-SF officials proposed expanding the project area by 30 more acres. A neighborhood meeting in November gave the plan mixed reviews - area residents supported the hospital idea but not the high-rise aspects - and the medical organization was reminded of the new development “vision” for the Mesa (see Story #6 above). An informal group of residents and citizen leaders is working with P-SF officials on the details, with the hope that more land for the site will mean buildings that aren't so high.
Westside Pioneer article