Spreading the word about Westside Hwy 24 planning meetings

       The state's Westside Highway 24 planners issued an appeal for public involvement at a specially called meeting of area citizen and business groups March 15.
       More than 30 group representatives listened to a project overview and added ideas of their own for spreading the word.
       The third in a series of public meetings on possible upgrades for the state highway between I-25 and Manitou Springs is scheduled Thursday, April 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the West Intergenera-tional Center, 25 N. 20th St.
       Two people at the meeting, including Rose Kliewer of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), suggested that the state put one of its flashing message signs on the highway a few days before the meeting so that people driving it would know what was going on. Bob Torres, Region 2 director for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), said he thought there might be “guidelines” against such sign use, but added that he would “look into it.”
       Currently, the state provides a website, sends meeting reminders to people who have signed in at previous meetings and takes out paid advertising at times. The hope is that the citizen groups - affecting various area government, business and neighborhood activities - will help by communicating with their memberships, explained Dave Watt, CDOT project manager, and Mary Jo Vobejda, project leader with the state consulting firm of CH2M HILL.
       Vobejda said a main reason for seeking broad input is because the project's scope has significant potential impact, not just on the highway corridor, but on the surrounding areas. She mentioned Old Colorado City, as an example. But even Mesa Road is likely to be impacted by cut-through traffic, noted Rick Keller, a representative of that area.
       Vobejda also noted that although attendance was relatively high at the two public meetings so far (in November and January), there was a noticeable drop-off, from 115 people at the first to 75 at the second.
       CDOT's advertised goal for the Westside Highway 24 planning process is to work with citizens to figure out universally beneficial upgrades for the 40-year-old, four-lane road. No plans have yet been nailed down. The public meetings are set to continue through the end of this year, occurring about every other month. In addition, CDOT periodically schedules separate meetings on the issue with government leaders and technical staff.
       Anyone wishing to get on the Highway 24 mailing list or to obtain other information about the project planning can call 477- 4970.

Westside Pioneer article