Consultant team begins quest for answers in No Man’s Land

       A consultant has been hired for No Man's Land.

A simplified map of No Man's Land shows the proximity of West Colorado Avenue, Highway 24, Fountain Creek and the desired route of the Midland Trail.
Courtesy of Felsburg Holt & Ullevig

       The $300,000 contract with Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU) - which will be teaming with four other firms in the effort - calls for a “Civil and Traffic Engineering Planning and Design Study of West Colorado Avenue and Manitou Avenue,” according to a press release following the vote by El Paso County commissioners April 26.
       In short, the goal is to identify public improvement needs roughly be-tween 31st Street and Manitou Springs' Highway 24 interchange. The press release calls for “roadway im-provements” and “solutions to traffic flow, pedestrian access, utilities placement, drainage and other infrastructure problems.”
       Although it's along the main business route between the historic districts in Old Colorado City and Manitou, that part of the avenue is often called No Man's Land because of years of civic neglect and, lately, problems with criminality. Part of the issue is perceived as jurisdictional, with unincorporated land mostly on the south side, Colorado Springs on the north side, Manitou Springs west of that and Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) managing the roadway itself as US Business 24.
       Steve Murray, FHU's project manager, said he is eager to move ahead with the study, which is expected to last about 10 months. “This is our specialty. This is what we've been doing for over 25 years,” he said, speaking of FHU's history in transportation planning, traffic and civil engineering and environmental services. The company is headquartered in the Denver area, with offices in Colorado Springs as well as Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.
       Murray described the No Man's Land project as “vital” to the Westside. “Tourism goes through here,” he said. “We need projects like this that complete our community. I'd love to come here when the work is done and enjoy it with my kids.”
       The FHU presentation to the commissioners April 26 pledged to develop a “vision of infrastructure improvements” that would “provide safe and efficient transportation, create a link between two vibrant historic districts [and] serve as a catalyst for economic development and other improvements in the corridor.”
       Actual construction will depend on November voter approval of a new 10 years for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's 1-cent sales tax. PPRTA2, as it's called, includes a $12 million project for the area west of 31st.
       The study cost is being covered by a grant from CDOT. The contract is with the county, but Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are collaborating with the county and state, the press release states.

Four who are working on the No Man's Land study (from left): Steve Murray project manager with Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU); Barry Grossman and Lisa Bachman of Bachman PR; and Todd Frisbie, traffic lead with FHU. The group is standing on Colorado Avenue's bridge over Fountain Creek, built by the State Highway Department in 1934.
Westside Pioneer photo

       FHU began planning its contract proposal 18 months ago, with preparation including interviewing at least 20 Westside leaders about the area's issues, Murray said.
       The four team members/subconsultants are NES, which specializes in urban planning and design (including work on the Gold Hill Mesa development); Summit Economics, economic vitality; Bachman PR, public outreach; and Nolte Vertical 5 (NV5, formerly known as Nolte Associates), which has worked with Manitou Springs on past projects, including its urban renewal study in the same part of the avenue five years ago.
       Asked about the 10-month schedule, Murray said he expects his team to “start in earnest by mid-May.”
       The FHU effort, as depicted in the presentation to the county, will include meetings with team members, elected officials, “stakeholders” (people who live and work in that area) and the public at large. Ongoing public outreach will be implemented with media releases, a website and/or social media.
       At least three “community open houses” are planned, with Murray expecting the first to occur in June or July.

Westside Pioneer article