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A graphic from the Westside Avenue Action Plan study provides the three alignment options considered for the "Bridge to Ridge" segment of Colorado Avenue. Alignment Option B, which moves the avenue northward, was agreed to by consensus at the April 16 meeting. Part of the project team thinking was that it would require less need for property acquisition than the other possibilities.
Courtesy of Westside Avenue Action Plan project team

Consensus on road shift - avenue study moves into design phase

       After a consensus OK from attendees at a public meeting April 16, the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) project team is moving forward with the alignment it had proposed for a segment of Colorado Avenue given the working name of “Bridge to Ridge.”
       WAAP is a study that will identify and coordinate major avenue upgrades that are expected to start in 2015 between about 32nd Street and Manitou's Highway 24 interchange.
       As presented at the meeting, features will include:
Attendees at the April 16 Westside Avenue Action Plan viewed this poster, which states the main engineering challenges that need to be solved before construction can start on the "Bridge to Ridge" segment of the corridor upgrade project.
Courtesy of Westside Avenue Action Plan project team
       - A new bridge over Fountain Creek at Columbia Road - built to handle a 100-year flood. It will be located just north of the existing span so that traffic will not be impeded during construction. When the new bridge is in (scheduled to occur by late 2016), the old one, built in 1934, will be removed.
       - A shift of the avenue 10 feet or so to the north between the bridge and Ridge Road, in part to line the roadway up with the new bridge location. The extent of property needed is still under review, but only partial takings are anticipated.
       - A route for the Midland Trail, which currently has a gap between Ridge and Columbia Roads. The northward shift will create more space on the south where the trail could go.
       - In the bridge design, making room for the trail to cross under the avenue along the north bank of the creek. There will also be a way for people to cross on the street itself, in the event of high water.
       - Naming the bridge after Adams Crossing, which has been the historic reference for that location. See separate meeting story.
       Already determined (a result of planning efforts and public meetings in 2012) is that the WAAP area - between 32nd and the interchange - will be changed from two lanes each way without turn lanes to one lane each way with a center lane. Lead consultant Steve Murray said this will also allow 15-foot-wide through lanes, which should leave ample room for bicycles.
       The WAAP project team consists of engineers from three local governments along with a contracted consultant and its subconsultants.
       Andre Brackin, the county engineer and project manager, said the favorable meeting response means “we can start preliminary design to nail down more of the details.” A public meeting to provide an update on this effort will be in June or July. Preliminary design will lead to final design, which Brackin believes will be ready in December.
       He cautioned that it will be a complex project, especially in the “Bridge to Ridge” segment, which will require extensive utility relocations and stormwater upgrades.
       Other tentative schedule milestones in the process are:
       - May to June - transfer of avenue right of way (and maintenance responsibilities) from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to El Paso County.
A graphic from the Westside Avenue Action Plan study shows the preliminary, basic shape and dimension of the new avenue bridge over Fountain Creek at Columbia Road. The added width and height for engineering reasons also allows space for trail use underneath. The trail would be slightly higher than the normal creek height. In case of high water, the plan is to have a crossing, possibly as part of stoplight arrangement at the Colorado/Columbia intersection.
Courtesy of Westside Avenue Action Plan project team

       - Property acquisition - November 2014 to May 2015.
       - Start of construction - September 2015.
       - Completion of construction - December 2016.
       Funding will mainly come from $12.5 million approved by voters in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority renewal in 2012. Another $2.6 million will come from the CDOT right of way transfer. Grants totalling $1.3 million are being used on the WAAP study.
       Before deciding to recommend the avenue's northward shift, the project team considered other options, including moving it to the south, which would have eliminated a curve and helped with the intersection at Ridge Road, which currently is closer than planners would like to Ridge and Pikes Peak Avenue.
       Four alignment options in all were presented at the meeting (A, B, C and D). The recommended “B” is described as a “minor shift north." Murray described it as less expensive than the other three, mainly because it requires less property acquisition. Another advantage, he noted, is that the shift makes use of - and at the same time eliminates as a traffic hazard - the current excess roadway on the north side of the avenue just east of Columbia (a carryover from past days when a streetcar line went that way).
Steve Murray, the lead consultant in the Westside Avenue Action Plan study, discusses a PowerPoint slide that summarizes the recommended alignment in the "Bridge to Ridge" segment of Colorado Avenue. The slide was displayed on the screen for attendees at the public meeting April 16 in the Westside Community Center.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Although there were several questions about Option B, no outright opposition was expressed by audience members, many of whom had been invited to the meeting as “stakeholders” (people who live, work and/or own property in that area).
       Under the preferred alignment, the biggest property taking would likely be needed for the new bridge over Fountain Creek, especially impacting an access point for the Garden of the Gods RV Resort. All the property owners in the area have already been contacted and have expressed support for the Option B concept, Barry Grossman, a project team member, said before the meeting.
       Still to be determined in the study are layout changes for the avenue intersections at Columbia Road and Ridge Road. One issue is whether either or both should have stoplights. The project team is leaning toward a light at Columbia, in part to provide a trail-crossing alternative. As for Ridge and Colorado, a show of hands at the meeting revealed about half the people favoring a roundabout, the other half a stoplight.
       City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager presented a different idea - to make Colorado/Ridge into a T intersection. This would eliminate the problem of proximity to Pikes Peak Avenue as well as another engineering difficulty, which is that Ridge, where it crosses Colorado, does not line up on its north and south legs. One audience member expressed concern about cutting off Ridge as an access into the Garden of the Gods, but Krager said she thinks it's not used by a lot of tourists, and locals could use neighborhood streets to get to it.
       Also still to be determined are the kinds of amenities that the project might provide between the through lanes and private property. Streetlights are a certainty, although their styles have not been addressed. Added possibilities include on-street parking, wider sidewalks (plans state a minimum of 5-foot widths), street art, plantings and pullouts for bus stops. However, there isn't room for all of these to go in.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/18/14; Projects: No Man's Land)

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