Hwy 24 work at least 10 years off
Date could be more distant if project does not become a local priority
Whatever people's opinions are on the state's Westside Highway 24 expansion alternatives, one thing for certain is that no such
work will occur very soon.
According to Craig Casper, transportation director for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), nothing is likely to happen for at least a decade.
“You look at other projects around - at Woodmen Road (extending it east to Highway 24), at Powers (extending it to I-25) and others, the earliest that funding will come for this project is 2015,” he said.
The way that PPACG tracks such matters is through its Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The agency is just now finalizing the list of projects needing funding from 2007 to 2012, and the 6.5-mile Highway 24 segment from I-25 to Manitou Springs is not on it.
The way Casper explains it, Westside Highway 24 is just one of many area transportation needs that have become apparent at about the same time.
In the end, the future of Westside Highway 24 could depend, not on what plan the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) chooses, but on how much local political support the plan has. This scenario would unfold at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), which consists of representatives from member governments in the region.
City Council member Randy Purvis explained in a recent interview that the city directs its representatives on PPACG how to vote. Such votes can determine whether PPACG endorses the plan or the priority it should get on the transportation list. Considering how tight government money is now, Purvis said it's a “safe statement” that if Westside Highway 24 does not have local support it would not get built very soon.
Costs for construction also are not encouraging. Casper said that currently, “costs are jumping out of proportion with the way income is jumping.” His estimate to build Westside Highway 24 in today's dollars is $80 million to $120 million. Factoring inflation by 2015, he estimated $150 million to $200 million.
Another area example of a road that has taken a long time to build is the Martin Luther King bypass, which was 20 years in planning before its construction in the late 1990s, and which still is considered incomplete, Casper said. Also noteworthy is that the MLK bypass has had widespread community support.
Westside Pioneer article