Decision-making to start at avenue corridor meeting Nov. 8

       The study of the West Colorado Avenue corridor (formerly known as “No Man's Land”) has involved about four months assessing community values for that area and various possibilities for bettering it.
       Now the time has come to start making decisions, according to Steve Murray, project manager for Felsburg Holt & Ullevig (FHU), the lead consultant in the study.
       That effort will begin with the next “stakeholders” workshop on what FHU calls the Westside Avenue Action Plan, Thursday, Nov. 8 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Westside Community Center, 1628 W. Bijou St.
       By its name, the get-together is geared for people who live or work in the corridor west of 31st Street and Manitou's Highway 24 interchange - thus, who have a stake there - but it's also open to people who have already signed up as volunteers or have an interest. So “it's almost a 'public meeting,' ” Murray said.
       He foresees “a very positive” discussion. “We're looking forward to pulling up our sleeves and actually making decisions,” he said.
       The way the agenda is planned, FHU and its subconsultants will bring forward suggestions based on their research and ask for comments. “As engineers, that's what we're paid to do,” Murray said. “But we need the feedback: 'Here's how we've evaluated it - have we missed anything?' ”
       The consultants are coming into the meeting with some confidence in their proposals. According to Murray and Barry Grossman, a communications specialist in the study effort, they've received similar types of feedback on community values from interviews with Westside leaders (even before FHU was awarded the contract last spring) and from meetings with government leaders/staffers (in July), stakeholders (in August) and the general public (in September).
       Not surprisingly, safety leads the way in public sentiment, but noticeable levels of interest have also been shown in aesthetics, pedestrian amenities, traffic flow, transit accessibility, historic preservation, sidewalks, crosswalks, infrastructure improvements and bike lanes (how many and/or whether to have them).
       The first main decision will be the roadway layout. At the September public meeting, one of the study team's poster boards showed different cross-sections - ones with four lanes (as it is now) as well as with two lanes. Related possibilities included medians, turn lanes and/or bike lanes, all of which could affect roadway width. As a result, because the right of way is limited on that part of the avenue, a decision on the layout will go a long way toward determining what amenities there's room for at the side of the road (such as wider sidewalks and aesthetic treatments), Murray and Grossman explained.
       FHU has a $300,000 contract from El Paso County, using a study grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The goal is to have plans by next year that can lead to designs for actual construction (in conjunction with Colorado Springs) by 2015.
       For more information, call 629-7566, e-mail info@westsideavenueplan.com or go to the website, westsideavenueplan.com, which includes summaries, graphics and tables reflecting research and community feedback to back.

Westside Pioneer article