As part of Westside Avenue Action Plan
(WAAP) work, a Wildcat Construction backhoe crew reshapes the space between
Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues that used to be Ridge Road. Plans call for a
bicycle-friendly "trail plaza" in that location, plus a nearby bus stop. When WAAP
is done, Ridge and Colorado Avenue will be a T-intersection with a stoplight.
Westside Pioneer photo
WAAP 'Coffee' reveals schedule issues - earliest bridge opening in late August
May 20, 2018
The May 16 “Coffee with the Contractor” for the $35.5 million Westside Avenue
Action Plan (WAAP) project revealed updates, changes and uncertainties.
A multi-government project led by El Paso County, WAAP is rebuilding a
roughly 1½-mile stretch of Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street and into
Work started in December 2016. The project team schedules informal “Coffee”
gatherings to keep the public up to speed. The May 16 event was at the Buffalo
Completion date shaky. The project had been scheduled to be
"substantially complete" in December, but that appears to be changing. According
to Dennis Barron, the county's project manager, there have been “a lot of bumps
in the road and hurdles to cross” and, although the project team hopes to have
“most of the important elements done” by year's end, the expectation now is that
work will “extend into 2019.”
Manitou Springs City Councilmember Nancy
Fortuin (far right) talks to the audience during the Westside Avenue Action Plan's
“Coffee with the Contractor” May 16 in the main hall of the Buffalo Lodge.
Another elected official on hand was El Paso County Commissioner Stan
VanderWerf, whose District 3 includes Manitou and the Westside.
Westside Pioneer photo
But “we're hoping it will just be finish work,” Barron added. A big reason for the
time concern is a creek wall that needs to be built. That job is particularly
weather-dependent, and “may push us out,” he said.
Adams Crossing Bridge delay. Spanning Fountain Creek at Columbia
Road, the under-construction Colorado Avenue bridge will not open to traffic
until the end of August or early September, Barron said. Wildcat Construction had
predicted until recently that it would open in May.
In a common scene along Colorado Avenue
near Columbia Road, a flagger restricts traffic to one side at a time. In this case,
it's the westbound motorists who are waiting their turn.
Westside Pioneer photo
Barron and Matthew Karr of Wildcat explained after the meeting that contributing
to the delay were complications with property acquisition and utility work and the
time required for state review of plans calling for the removal/rearrangement of
historic stone walls near the bridge. Also, “maybe we were a little optimistic,”
Barron said. As for the acquisitions, "sometimes things take longer than you
hope," he summarized.
Property acquistions causing impact. This is the first time that the
project team has acknowledged that their plan - procuring easements or buying
property in tandem with construction - has slowed the work itself. About 85
properties (almost all partial purchases or easements) were needed when WAAP
began. Typically in government projects, acquisitions are completed beforehand,
but the thinking for WAAP was that waiting to complete that process first would
have meant construction costs (already on the rise) climbing even higher.
Bridge named... or not? No plans have been made yet for any marker
identifying the bridge name as “Adams Crossing.” According to official records
information, people have called it that since the late 1800s, based on the nearby
home of Charles Adams - a nationally prominent citizen of that era who had close
ties to the Westside and Manitou.
During a public meeting in April 2014, a
Powerpoint slide (part of a presentation by Steve Murray, the lead consultant in
the Westside Avenue Action Plan) showed Adams Crossing as the name of the
bridge over Fountain Creek at Columbia Road.
Westside Pioneer file photo
At a public meeting in 2014, the WAAP project team agreed, after a presentation
by local historians, to name the bridge "Adams Crossing."
Consultant/project design lead Steve Murray, who was part of the team at that
meeting, said after the May 16 “Coffee” that he would look into the matter.
Misguided travelers. Outdated GPS information (not within the control
of the project team) is directing visitors to use Ridge Road when accessing
Colorado Avenue motels - which puts them right in the middle of the WAAP
construction zone. A hotel owner pointed this out at the meeting. Project team
members said they would try to contact Google Maps and others providing such
services and/or improve project signage.
Midland Trail on sidewalk. In a change from pre-construction plans,
WAAP will not situate the Midland Trail between Ridge and Columbia
along Fountain Creek. Karr said that trail users instead will be directed to
sidewalks, which are being built as part of the project on either side of the avenue.
He described the sidewalks as an “interim” trail solution, adding that a future
Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) drainage-control project will
include the creekside connection.
CDOT project/Timber Lodge. The above-noted CDOT project is
primarily a water-detention pond north of Fountain Creek and west of Ridge Road
treat runoff from Highway 24 before it goes into the creek. Karr asserted that the
pond will be built on the site of the present-day Timber Lodge, which “is to be
demolished” for that purpose.
Matthew Karr, superintendent for Wildcat
Construction (the Westside Avenue Action Plan contractor), explains project
with the help of a large map during the "Coffee with the Contractor" May 16.
Westside Pioneer photo
However, this statement was questioned after the meeting by Cindy Hooton,
who has owned the Timber Lodge with her husband John for more than 30 years.
She told the Westside Pioneer that although CDOT has mentioned the idea
to them, nothing definite has ever been agreed on - let alone put in writing - to
buy the property or demolish its 24 cabins.
Ridge Road plaza, not "camp." An amenity called a "trail plaza" is being
built as part of WAAP in the space where Ridge used to connect between
Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues. It's intended to be a bicycle-friendly spot with
benches and paths near a bus stop. Murray told the “Coffee” attendees that his
design should also keep the plaza from becoming a hangout where people want to
spend the night. “We want it to be attractive, but we don't want it to be a camp,”
Return of Manitou Springs arch. Removed last September for project
work, the traditional sign over the avenue is being reinstalled near its previous
spot at Manitou's eastern city limits line. This should happen late this month (May
2018), according to Barron.
Coming impacts. Crews undergrounding utilities and installing storm
drains are expected to begin digging into the avenue east of Ridge Road late this
month (May 2018), gradually working their way to 31st Street in the coming
weeks. Colorado Avenue traffic through the project area will continue to have
flaggers and intermittently be reduced to one lane. Also expect closures for the
time being on Pikes Peak Avenue around Ridge Road and on 36th Street between
Colorado and Pikes Peak.
Citizen complaints. Project-related safety concerns were heard during
the “Coffee” gathering, regarding potholes, dirt on the road and other issues.
Citizens in general were told that their input is important and not to be shy about
asking questions or raising issues. The WAAP “hotline” is 301-3801, and the
website is westsideavenueplan.com.
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