CDOT eliminates 30th Street option for Highway 24

       30th Street is no longer being considered to replace Highway 24's 31st Street intersection.
       State engineering consultant Mary Jo Vobejda announced this decision at a meeting of the Citizens Trans-portation Ad-visory Board (CTAB) June 27.
       Key to the decision was a study of traffic flow, explained Vobejda, who is the project lead for CH2M HILL, the chief consulting firm for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) in the Westside Highway 24 planning effort.
       “Now there's a bit of a split,” she said, with traffic using both streets to go north. But changing the highway intersection to 30th Street “would load 30th with a lot of traffic. There would be very little on 31st.”
       In addition, she said, creating a 30th Street alignment would have meant a large amount of land acquisition. This would have included impacts on an RV park and a restaurant.
       The 30th Street build option has been among those presented at CDOT's public meetings and on its website since last November. The idea was that it would provide a more direct route north through the Garden of the Gods and on to Garden of the Gods Road. Among the citizen concerns had been the relatively narrow size of 30th Street. Both 30th and 31st go through residential areas.
       CTAB, an advisory committee for City Council, received a presentation on CDOT's plans for a $240 million highway upgraade between I-25 and Manitou Springs, but took no position on them. Part of the reason appeared to be the state engineers' emphasis that their plans are still crystallizing. However, CTAB's lack of action left unclear what kind of report it might provide to City Council in conjunction with a planned CDOT presentation at an informal council meeting July 10.
       CTAB also heard comments from County Commissioner/Westside businesswoman Sallie Clark, who complained about the open house process CDOT has been using to gather citizen input. At such meetings, “the neighborhood feels left out in many ways,” she said. “People move from station to station, and their individual comments go into a pile.”
       Joe Henjun, a CTAB member, asked CDOT project manager Dave Watt if there was a chance of using a single-presentation format in the future at such public gatherings, so that everyone could hear the same information, as was the case for CTAB.
       In response, Watt said, “It's what we're considering.” However, he emphasized that no decision has been made for certain.
       Another CTAB member, Don Schley, criticized the general project layout. “It looks like a snake with a bulge in the middle,” he said, referring to the CDOT proposal to expand the 6.5-mile project segment to six or more lanes while leaving Highway 24 east and west of it at four lanes.
       Clark told the group there is neighborhood opposition to the project, led by the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN). She also mentioned the Westside Highway 24 working group she is helping form that will consist of elected and appointed leaders from national, state and local levels, along with business owners and various mover/shaker groups from around the Pikes Peak region.
       CDOT made no reference to this consortium at the CTAB meeting, but did mention a “Westside Idea Group” in one of its PowerPoint slides.
       CDOT has been meeting with the general public as well as with individual groups as part of a $7 million planning effort to develop a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the project by the end of this year. A final EA is foreseen by the end of 2007, Watt told the CTAB members.

Westside Pioneer article