Ridge Road access in peril
Does public input matter?
Yes and no, it appears, based on the methodology used by the Colorado Department of Transporta-tion (CDOT) in its Westside Highway 24 expansion planning process to select the currently favored option for the Ridge Road intersection.
The option, included on a map with greenway concepts at the open house organized by CDOT and its consultants June 26, shows a Highway 24 overpass at Ridge Road without on- or off-ramps. This would force a roundabout way to and from the popular city-owned Red Rock Canyon Open Space or to the scores of homes off Ridge Road/ High Street just south of 24.
“That's crazy,” commented Kathryn Lucas, the co-developer of the 18-lot Red Rock Canyon Estates in that area.
During the open house, Mary Jo Vobejda of CH2M HILL, the principal CDOT consultant, said (in response to a question) that the no-access overpass plan had reached favored status in response to Colorado Springs Parks Development Manager Chris Lieber and residents south of the highway.
Lieber confirmed such discussions afterwards, saying his chief concern is pedestrian access to Red Rock Canyon, particularly from the Midland Trail, which will eventually be built along Fountain Creek (just north of the highway). A no-access overpass might not be the only way to accomplish a safe highway crossing, he added, but stipulated that his main priority is “safe and easy access from the trail.”
Neither Lucas nor Rich Hostak had been contacted by CDOT and did not know anyone who had. Hosak, the owner of an audio-visual business, said he has lived south of the highway for 23 years and stays in touch with the 10 households in his neighborhood. He also has been a regular attendee at CDOT's Highway 24 open houses.
Like Lucas, Hosak objected to the overpass plan because it would eliminate convenient access to and from the nearby highway. Planners at the open house were suggesting people turn in different places and take Colorado Avenue. to Ridge. “It would be totally awkward,” Hosak said.
He does like the state's intent for a safer traverse of the busy, currently unsignalized intersection and would favor either an overpass with ramps or an at-grade stoplight.
When the Pioneer presented this feedback to Vobejda, she explained that CDOT/CH2M HILL had not surveyed the neighborhood but was acting on pro-overpass comments offered by representatives of “two to four” south-of-the-highway households at previous Highway 24 open houses. She did not recall who the people were.
When asked what might happen next, considering the opinions of Lucas and Hosak and their influence on that area, Vobejda said, “They're more than welcome to give us a call.”
Westside Pioneer article