EDITOR’S DESK: And someday they’ll ask where it was
I've got to admit, the first time I heard the idea, I cringed.
Three lanes for West Colorado Avenue through "No Man's Land"? What would happen to people's ability to speed through that area where, quite frankly, there's not a lot going on?
And then it hit me. Well, actually, it was more like a series of hits, each one building on the one before, sort of like pepper spray, to reach a differing view... What if the "not a lot going on" situation were changed? And wouldn't that be aided by slowing traffic down (three lanes will do that) and taking advantage of the resulting, narrower driving pavement to add sidewalks, trees, benches and other niceties? Not to mention a new creek bridge and underground utilities (already planned for the future project).
First, though, I have to credit the people who brainwashed me, er, uh, led me to this higher state of thinking. No, seriously, this whole "Westside Avenue Action Plan" endeavor reeked of potential bureaucratic disaster right from the get-go. The multi-jurisdictional issues alone had stymied significant civic improvements for years along that part of the avenue. So when the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) came up with $300,000 for this study, I thought, here we go. CDOT maintains the road, you see, and would like to turn that responsibility over to Colorado Springs (whose city limits end mainly on the north side of the avenue), to El Paso County (the south side) and to Manitou Springs (everything roughly west of the big campground). I also had some initial doubts about the study itself and whether the consultants were up enough on the area and its history.
But things started falling into place. The government staffers and consultants worked in tandem, not dictating to citizens at meetings but asking them to consider how they'd like that area to be, then providing data showing how those values would be affected by the different street-laning formats. It helps too that the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) tax was renewed, so $12 million will be available to do the work. Folks, this area could become really nice. A lot has been made about renaming it, but methinks that the "No Man's Land" tag will disappear by itself.