New RTA: 7 Westside ‘A’ projects; meetings June 2 & 7

       With area governments having finished their proposed transportation lists for “PPRTA II,” citizens will get their say at meetings June 2 and 7.
       After that, according to City Transportation Mana-ger Kathleen Krager, the Pikes Peak Rural Transpor-tation Authority (RTA) Board of Directors are slated to vote on a finalized “capital renewal list” (as it's being called) at the next RTA meeting June 13.
       For the Westside, the list shows 7 of about 70 top-priority (ranked “A”) projects on this side of town, as well as 5 of about 70 lower-priority (ranked “B”).
       In terms of dollars, the Westside is ticketed for $35,293,000 in A-list projects and $26,233,000 B-list.
       The only new-construction A-list projects seen for the Westside are the Centennial Boulevard extension (to finish the connection between Fillmore and Fontanero streets) and the Midland Trail (the missing link between Ridge and Columbia roads).
       Other Westside “A” work would involve replacing two bridges and upgrading three roadway segments (including the part of West Colorado Avenue nicknamed “No Man's Land”).
       The meeting information is as follows:
  • Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to noon at El Paso County Centennial Hall's auditorium, 200 S. Cascade Ave. Free parking (with validation) will be available in the parking garage at 255 S. Sahwatch Street (behind Centennial Hall), from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 7, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Colorado Springs City Administration Building (Suite 102), 30 S. Nevada Ave.
           Both meetings will be set up the same, with an “open-house” format and the same set of information displays and government officials on hand to answer questions, Krager said.
           PPRTA II is the name that's been given to a proposed 10-year sequel to the current RTA, which voters in El Paso County initially had approved from 2005 to 2014. Current money from the RTA's 1-cent sales tax is being used for the original A-list. The tax also funds public road improvements, maintenance, and transit for El Paso County and communities (including Colorado Springs) that charge the RTA tax.
           A ballot issue seeking the extension will go before voters at the Nov. 6 general election.
           Asked about the funding plan for PPRTA II, Krager explained that staff has changed its strategy from the current RTA, in which a steadily strong economy would have been necessary to fund any projects other than those on the A list. Because the economy instead went down, that didn't happen.
           For PPRTA II, the funding plan is more conservative, Krager said. The sale-tax revenues are predicted to come in at the same rate as in the current RTA. In such a case, the complete A list (priced at $284,850,000 in all) could be funded with only 75 percent of the total capital money over the 10-year span, which improves the odds of funding at least some B-list items. The B-list projects have the same total price tag, so they could all be funded if money came in at 150 percent of expectations, she pointed out.
           Here is the Westside A list (in order of cost):
  • West Colorado Avenue reconstruction from Highway 24 (in Manitou) to 31st Street, $12,028,000. This would be a joint project involving Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and El Paso County, each of which has some jurisdiction along that part of the avenue. (Note: The dollar amount shown does not include the Manitou share.) Ongoing is a consultant-led, public planning effort to detail needed upgrades.
  • Centennial Boulevard extension from Fillmore to Fontanero, $10,450,000. This would complete a four-lane roadway with a median to relieve traffic on Fillmore and Chestnut (most of the road between Fillmore and Van Buren is already built).
  • Centennial Boulevard, reconstruction of the segment from Garden of the Gods Road to Fillmore Street, $8,065,000. The road structure is about 25 years old and has been plagued by asphalt, soil and drainage issues, according to previous information from the city.
  • Bridge replacement, Chestnut Street over South Douglas Creek, $1,800,000.
  • South 8th Street Improvements, Motor City Way to Fountain Creek, $1,500,000 - This would involve additional work, beyond the concrete improvements installed this spring through an RTA maintenance project, to make this stretch of Eighth safer.
  • Bridge replacement on West Fillmore Street, $1,000,000. A small stream near Coronado High School goes under Fillmore, from its north side to its south side, but the culvert under the street has begun to fail.
  • Midland Trail, Ridge to Columbia, $450,000. This part of the trail currently doesn't exist. Because it's also in No Man's Land, its plan will be tied in with the consultant-led project referenced above, Krager has said.
    Here is the Westside B list (in order of cost):
  • 30th Street corridor improvements, $8,250,000. This would cover the expected costs of widening 30th past the Garden of the Gods to allow room for bike lanes, Krager said.
  • Bridge replacement, Cimarron Street over Fountain Creek, $7,878,000.
  • 21st Street improvements, $6,600,000. This would widen 21st on its west side, with the Gold Hill Mesa development picking up the cost for the east side of the street.
  • Bridge replacement, 21st Street over Fountain Creek, $1,939,000.
  • Bridge rehabilitation, Eighth Street over Fountain Creek, $1,566,000.

    Westside Pioneer article (with reporting contribution by N. Rioux Jordan)