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A preliminary design from the Jan. 26 open house shows the area of the first phase of the upcoming Centennial Boulevard paving project, including the existing medians. The city now plans to remove the medians, pending another public meeting. (Note: To orient which way is north, Garden of the Gods Road (far right) is an east-west street.)
Courtesy of Colorado Springs Engineering Inc./Westside Pioneer photo

City plans to remove Centennial Boulevard medians in road reconstruction project; public will have chance to object

              The city plans to remove nearly all the center medians on Centennial Boulevard as part of an upcoming, nearly $8 million road reconstruction/paving project between Garden of the Gods Road and Fillmore Street.
       The one exception is between GoG Road and High Tech Way (to retain a safety-oriented access limitation to/from the West Wind/Albertsons shopping center).
       According to project manager Ryan Phipps of City Engineering, the decision stemmed from citizen concerns at a project open house in late
Ryan Phipps, the project manager for the Centennial Boulevard reconstruction, answers questions during a January open house in the Jackson Elementary gym.
Westside Pioneer photo
January, as well as a follow-up analysis that included communications with City Traffic Engineering.
       More than 100 people, many from the nearby Holland Park neighborhood, attended the open house in the Jackson Elementary gym, which included informational posters, drawings and city staff answering questions. “[I'm] still concerned about the excessive U-turns that happen,” was one citizen comment. “The medians need to be opened up some. There is also a school bus stop at Chesham [Circle]. Amazing a child hasn't been hurt with the conflicting traffic and U-turns.”
       Phipps stipulated that the city will not make a final decision on the medians until after a second open house, tentatively set for April. However, to change his mind, he would need to see an “overwhelming majority” of citizens in favor of keeping the medians, he said.
       Phase 1 of the reconstruction, between GoG Road and Chesham Circle, is set to start in June.
       The project is being funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) sales tax. It is one of the PPRTA A-list projects approved by voters in the 2012 election.
       The medians in the Centennial segment south of Fillmore to Van Buren Street would not be affected.
       Over 10 feet wide (except where they narrow for left-turn lanes), the medians to be removed are either concrete or landscaped, including more than 20 mature trees, between High Tech Way and part way up a hill a few hundred feet south of Windmill Drive. The largest concentration (about 15 trees) is on the median between High Tech and Chesham.
       In place of medians, the city would stripe in a center lane that could be used for left turns from either direction on the four-lane road.
       “It kind of breaks my heart a little bit, because I like trees and what they do for the corridor,” Phipps said. He also has a concern that taking out the medians will make the 71-foot-wide roadway “look like a race track.”
       But on the plus side, he elaborated, is eliminating the need for U-turns and providing a ”little freer access to the road.” The medians currently prevent left turns onto Centennial for a
The median between High Tech Way and Chesham Circle has the most trees of any on Centennial Boulevard. The photo looks south from a point near the southeast corner of High Tech Way and Centennial.
Westside Pioneer photo
total of 80 properties along the street. Phipps thinks those such conflicts would only worsen (if the medians stay) in about two years when Centennial south of Fillmore is extended the rest of the way to the Fontanero/I-25 interchange (another PPRTA A-list project). That's because the street will get more traffic then, he said.
       Another upside to taking out the medians is that it will put an end to their maintenance uncertainties. To keep the landscaping would require an updated irrigation system, and there would be worries even then about water seeping down and compromising the pavement, Phipps explained.
       In talking with Traffic Engineering, Phipps was told that with or without the medians, the street would be safe to drive on. He said that the reconstruction design can work either way - if, say, the public strongly favors preserving the medians - because the space in the middle can be used for them or the center lane.
       Each person attending the January open house had a chance to fill out an “Individual Response Form.” The form did not include a specific question about keeping the medians. People were asked if they wanted the medians to be landscaped or concrete. The feedback on that was about even, the response tabulations show. The citizen U-turn issues showed up under the general question, “What concerns you about this reconstruction project?”
       Many of the responses at the open house did indicate joy that the road reconstruction was happening. In some parts of the project area, according to Phipps, the asphalt is more than 30 years old. “YAY! Get rid of all the potholes and uneven pavement,” one attendee wrote.
       The project's Phase 1 is from Garden of the Gods Road to Chesham Circle (just south of Douglas Creek); Phase 2 is south from there to the last of the medians; and Phase 3 is from that point south to Fillmore. Phase 1 is anticipated to last from June to October this year, while Phases 2 and 3 are slated from May to September 2017.
       Scheduled before the paving (from March to May) in the Phase-1 area is a separate but related project to repair a storm-drainage pipe underneath Centennial between Garden of the Gods Road and South Douglas Creek. It will have some traffic impacts. See Westside Pioneer story.
       Also occurring this year in the Holland Park area will be the replacement of the Chestnut Street bridge, which failed last August because of a sinkhole caused by a failed stormwater pipe. It, too (like Phase 1 of Centennial) is due for completion in October. City officials have pledged to coordinate the two projects to reduce travel disruption in the area.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 2/20/16; Transportation: (Major Roads)

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