CDOT presenting; Clark recruiting
Debate continues over how vast Hwy 24 upgrades should be

       In keeping with a request from Colorado Springs City Council last week, the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board (CTAB) is scheduled to receive a presentation from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Tuesday, June 27 on Westside Highway 24 upgrade plans.
       The meeting will be at 3 p.m. at the Alamo Building, 102 S. Tejon St. City Council itself is scheduled to talk to CDOT representatives at its informal (non-voting) meeting Monday, July 10. CTAB is an advisory group to City Council.
       Meanwhile, El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said she is working on recruiting 25 to 30 members for a special committee of elected and appointed officials, as well as a range of business people, citizens and potentially affected property owners that would meet by the second week in July. Her effort comes on the heels of an informal gathering June 13 with CDOT at which, at her request, a consensus of some 30 high-ranking local officials agreed by consensus to temporarily “put the brakes on” CDOT's plans for a $240 million project that would radically broaden Highway 24's presence through the Westside.
       Asked how this agreement might be affecting CDOT's activities, Mary Jo Vobejda, project lead for CH2M HILL, CDOT's main consultant on the Highway 24 planning effort, said that “until the new group gets together, we're just continuing to move ahead on the issues we were working on.” These mainly include the points that were brought up at the June 13 meeting - a citizen-proposed lower-impact upgrade plan and research into the logic of future traffic projections that have triggered a larger-scale highway plan than many people had expected.
       Clark, also a Westside resident and businesswoman, hopes to get representation of a broad cross-section of the community. Groups from which she is seeking committee members include the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Committee, Downtown Partnership, Realtors, Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), CTAB, Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), the county's Highway Advisory Committee, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) and the Manitou and Colorado Springs city councils. In addition, State Senator Ed Jones and State Representative Michael Merrifield - both of whom were at the June 13 confab - are also welcome.
       “It's not our intent to be difficult or to alienate CDOT, which is the impression some people had, because we depend on them for road projects,” Clark said. “But we want to have a process that gets the results we want with the dollars available.”
       The request for CTAB involvement had come from City Councilman Jerry Heimlicher, saying it was time for city officials other than just staff to scrutinize Highway 24 plans.
       Another upcoming presentation by CDOT and its consultants will be June 28, at 7:30 a.m. with the Trails, Open Space and Parks (TOPS) Working Committee at City Parks Offices.

Westside Pioneer article