‘Thrilled’ RTA leader predicts first road work from bond issue to start around May
“Not soon enough,” said Mike Kazmierski, when asked how soon roadwork would begin with the passage of county ballot
issue 1A in the Nov. 2 election.
Kazmierski, a downtown economist, was one of the leading voices in the volunteer Pikes Peak Transportation Coalition's push to create a Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) in El Paso County.
He said it will be a “pay as you go” operation, so there will first need to be four or five months of collecting the 1 percent sales tax after the first of the year before any of the planned transportation improvements can get underway. But that will allow time to form a citizens oversight committee, in accordance with the issue's ballot language, that will meet with city and county officials to decide the priority of project development for the projects listed on the RTA's “A” list.
The “A” list includes four Westside projects, as well as a replacement of the Cimarron Street bridge just east of I-25. Timing on that replacement will be carefully considered, he said, because the nearby Bijou Street bridge also is due for replacement (as part of the I-25 widening) and no one wants those two projects to occur simultaneously.
For now, “we're all thrilled” with the result, Kazmierski said. “We really worked on this for 18 months. Our initial effort was to get citizen input, and we used that to build a ballot issue that didn't really have any significant flaws and was not opposed by any business or neighborhood group.”
Sallie Clark, who was unopposed in the election for District 3 county commissioner, had also worked on the RTA effort. “It's going to be very positive for our community,” she said, adding that the Westside will receive some upgrades that will be especially welcome because of the area's older (in some cases crumbling) infrastructure. “It is a sales tax, but there will be improvements - the Cimarron bridge, more money for curbs and gutters, maintenance and renovation, and a grid system for transit so buses can go from point A to Point B without going to C (the downtown).”
In all, seven individual Westside projects are on the RTA list, under priorities A, B or C. They are at the following locations: “A” - Fillmore Street west of I-25, Chestnut Street/Garden of the Gods, 25th Street Bridge over Fountain Creek, left turn at the Navigators' access on 30th Street; “B” - Uintah Street between Mesa Road and Cooper Street, Forge Road/ Garden of the Gods; “C” - Centennial Boulevard extension.
Westside Pioneer Article