Centennial extension entering final design; neighborhood park access still issue
The planned segment will travel through a wide valley east of Mesa Creek and west of the older Mesa Springs neighborhood. At the south end, it will link up with Fontanero, which currently dead ends at the top of a hill, just over a quarter-mile west of the interchange.
The city sees the extension as a relatively low-speed four-lane road (speed limit 35 mph) that will relieve traffic on Fillmore and Chestnut streets. At the same time, the engineers want to minimize the new road's impact on the adjacent neighborhoods as well as on the natural terrain that the extension passes through.
A longstanding request from the Mesa Springs Community Association has been to retain the neighborhood's direct pedestrian access to Sondermann Park. Aaron Egbert, the project manager for City Engineering, said the project team is “working through” that issue, but does not yet have a solution.
He pointed out two complications:
1 - The current Fontanero Street is a two-lane dead-end. This lets Sondermann-bound Mesa Springs residents easily walk up Fontanero or cross it via Seventh Street. But the preliminary extension design shows an expressway-style layout, with no designated crossing point.
2 - Extensive cut-and-fill is planned at the top of Fontanero. The plan is to cut through that high point so that the new road will wind up 15 feet or so below
The extension will include a Chestnut/ Fontanero stoplight (it now has stop signs) and another at the interchange. One point of view is that pedestrians/cyclists could cross at the Chestnut light, go south a block and get to Sondermann by way of Espanola Street.
Other extension-related public concerns include traffic, noise, diminished scenery, post-project restoration and effects on nearby Sondermann Park, Mesa Creek (although the road will be outside its flood plain) and area wildlife.
On the whole, Egbert said, referring to the mid-August public hike, which attracted more than 50 citizens (and required two separate groups) and was guided by engineers, “I was very happy with how the project design looked in the field. We also received positive feedback from some attendees.”
The schedule calls for completing the design this year, then breaking ground in 2017 and continuing construction into 2018.
As presented, the extension will have a median (landscaped in its southern portion), with on-street bike lanes, a sidewalk and a trail.
For project costs, $10.45 million was set aside under the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority in 2012. The final cost could be higher, Egbert said, but “a lot of things need to be figured out” before a true estimate can be made. “It's way too early to say we're over budget.”
The extension was first proposed in the 1980s all the way from Fillmore and Fontanero. In the last 10 years, the portion from Fillmore to Van Buren (except for a short gap) has been built by private developers in separate projects.
Westside Pioneer article