Range of ‘potential solutions’ await public at next Westside Hwy 24 open house June 21

       “Potential solutions” for the Westside Highway 24 corridor, reflecting 356 of the 360 unique citizen ideas offered at meetings last winter, will be on display at a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) open house Tuesday, June 21.
       The scheduled times are 6 to 8 p.m. at the West Intergenerational Center, 25 N. 20th St. The project focus is the highway between I-25 and Manitou Springs, although the focus could be broadened if improvements elsewhere would help relieve corridor congestion.
       People can drop in anytime to look at exhibits and ask questions of representatives from CDOT or its consultants.
       Also, anyone with an opinion is encouraged to fill out a response form and let officials hear about it. “We want to know what people like and don't like,” said project leader Mary Jo Vobejda, an engineer with CDOT consultant CHS2M HILL.
       CDOT and consultants will use this public feedback to develop a narrower list of alternatives - most likely combining some ideas with others - for review at the next public meeting in August or September, she said.
       Currently, with so many “potential solutions” (as CDOT refers to them), by no means are any intended as final. Some “solutions” even conflict with others.
       For example, people will see possibilities for intersections ranging from at-grade crossings to full interchanges. And West Colorado Avenue - which could be upgraded with the project because it is the highway's only prominent parallel road - will be shown with options that are “180 degrees apart,” Vobejda said. One is for a “calmer” road, with just one lane each way and even diagonal parking. Another is for a four-lane Colorado Avenue that would serve as a mini-highway, with continuous turn lanes, a designated bike lane and no on-street parking.
       In terms of a broadened project area, engineers have even drawn up a map depicting a shortcut from Monument to Woodland Park (using an expanded Mt. Herman Road) and considering how much traffic that might take from Westside Highway 24.
       “The long list of ideas we received from residents and businesses have been grouped into nine potential solutions,” said Dave Watt, CDOT's corridor manager.
       These are:
       · No action - no changes except for improvements the state or other entities have already committed to. These include future city plans to widen 8th and 21st streets.
       · Non-motorized mobility- includes an east-west corridor greenway, accessibility ramps and ways for pedestrians to cross the corridor safely.
       · TDM (transportation demand management) - various programs and services to “maximize existing and future transportation systems” (such as variable work hours, car pooling, teleworking and flexible lane usages).
       · TSM (transportation systems management) - different system strategies to improve traffic flow (such as computerization, variable message signs, signalization and “smart vehicles”).
       · Transit - “non-fixed guideway systems” (buses) or “fixed guideway systems” (rail).
       · Alternative regional routes - Examples are the above-mentioned Mt. Herman Road or extending Rampart Range Road from Garden of the Gods Road to Cascade and Gold Camp Road from 31st to 21st Street.
       · Local roadway improvements (parallel routes) - This includes the more robust Colorado Avenue mentioned above.
       · Local roadway improvements (traffic calming roadways) - This includes the two-lane Colorado Avenue mentioned above.
       Wondering which 4 ideas out of the 360 were eliminated? Here they are:
       A gondola from the downtown to Manitou Springs. “We couldn't get enough riders to support the cost,” Vobejda said.
       A monorail to Cripple Creek. “It's inconsistent with the Springs Transit program, extremly expensive and would need a lot of riders,” she said.

Westside Pioneer article