Failures for two county ‘No Man’s Land’ funding efforts

       An attempt to install sidewalks and fix drainage problems in the “extremely hazardous” El Paso County portion of “No Man's Land” failed in two attempts this year.
       One was Commissioner Sallie Clark's request to pay for these improvements - between about the mid-3400 block and mid-3700 block of West Colorado Avenue - using money from the county's share of the Road and Bridge Fund. But in a commissioner ranking of 19 project suggestions for fund money, the proposal wound up tied for 11th. Only the top five got funded.
       In a 0 to 5 ranking scale (5 being highest), Clark gave the Colorado Avenue Improvements item a 5, but other commissioners ranked it as follows: Wayne Williams, 0; Douglas Bruce, 0; Dennis Hisey, 2; and Jim Bensberg, 3.
       In a more recent setback, the Transportation En-hancement Subcommittee of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) gave the county No Man's plan a negative recommendation. This in turn led to its rejection by the PPACG board and thus its non-inclusion on the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) that is used by local and state officials in prioritizing work.
       The enhancement-funds grant application by El Paso County Transportation included the following statement: “If the project is not completed, the situation will continue to be extremely hazardous for those using the corridor.”
       Although disappointed, Clark said, “I would say that there were just too many other projects that needed the funding requests this year. I am continuing to pursue the avenue projects through possible Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.”
       In explanation of the TIP denial, PPACG Transportation Director Craig Casper said the enhancement funds are limited, and it might have helped if the submission had come in earlier in the process. Also, the plan has the disadvantages of being relatively expensive without improving traffic flow, he said.
       The next time the project could have a chance to be added is 2008, Casper said, adding that funding for any project is hard to come by - even one that is universally supported, such as the State Highway 16 upgrade for Fort Carson.
       No Man's Land - the nickname for a roughly 1 ½-mile avenue segment dominated by small motels that has suffered from public neglect over the years - is roughly defined as going west from 33rd Street into Manitou Springs. Evidently contributing to the situation, Colorado Springs city-limit lines zig-zag through the area, so that part of the area is in the city and some is not.
       Manitou Springs has begun what it calls an “East Corridor” survey -using a grant-funded consultant to scrutinize property details from the Manitou interchange down to 33rd - which could lead to an urban renewal project within Manitou city limits.

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