Public forum Dec. 15 on proposed Fillmore fix

       In September, City Traffic Engineering posted a survey online, seeking public feedback to seven alternatives for improvements to the traffic chokepoint at Fillmore and Chestnut streets.

Typical late afternoon traffic on Fillmore Street at the Parker intersection. The traffic has backed up from the three-way stoplight at Chestnut Street. A courteous eastbound pickup truck driver is letting someone turn left in front of him onto Parker.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Results of the survey have not been released yet, but it doesn't really matter. It turns out that, after analysis, all seven were too expensive anyway.
       So Tim Roberts, the project's manager for Traffic Engineering, and consultant Maureen Araujo went back to the drawing board.
       Their lower-cost plan - this one lacking the pricey Chestnut-Fillmore overpass but still promising a traffic upgrade - will be presented at a public forum Wednesday, Dec. 15 in the Coronado High School cafeteria. The times will be 5:30 to 7 p.m.
       The new proposal would use elements of the other alternatives, highlighted by a new alignment for Chestnut Street. South of Fillmore, it would swing west, away from the Fillmore interchange, up to the current Parker intersection at Fillmore, where a stoplight would be installed.
       This would improve traffic flow by changing the current Fillmore-Chestnut stoplight from a three-way (Chestnut, Fillmore and the I-25 ramps) to a two-way cycle (just Fillmore and the ramps), Roberts explained.

The alternative that will be presented to citizens at the Dec. 15 public forum at Coronado High School shows in yellow the proposed new alignment for Chestnut Street that would make use of a new, signalized intersection where Parker is now. Construction is not foreseen until 2013 or 2014.
Courtesy of City Traffic Engineering

       Other features would be turning most of Parker Street into a cul de sac, raising Fillmore about 11 feet between Sage Street and the interchange (otherwise it's too steep for a stoplight at Parker) and the routing of Chestnut north of Fillmore through the easterly portion of the privately owned, 14-acre Palmer House property that was graded about a year ago and is planned as a commercial center.
       Roberts noted that in door-to-door meetings he's had with Parker residents, “a lot of people” supported the cul-de-sac plan. The way the project looks now, three to four houses on Parker, nearest the Fillmore intersection, would probably have to be removed, he said.
       But he cautioned that the effort is still in its conceptual stages. The Dec. 15 meeting will end the Fillmore-area traffic study that began last winter and begin a design phase for the project, which will address construction details and lingering issues.
       One of those issues is still the cost. Even after cutting $5 million from the original alternatives, Traffic Engineering's recommended alternative has an $8.8 million price estimate... which is $2 million than the amount budgeted by Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA). One way to make up the difference is through cooperation with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) regarding the need to purchase the gas station properties on either corner at Chestnut and Fillmore. CDOT will eventually need the properties as part of long-range plans for a new Fillmore/I-25 interchange, but buying them at this time would save the city those costs. In any case, the RTA needs to spend the construction money it has budgeted for Fillmore improvements by 2014, Roberts noted.
       Also needed is a formal agreement with Crestone Development, the owner of the Palmer House property. Its conceptual plans for the Palmer House redevelopment show only small private roads going through it, not a city collector street. However, Roberts is hopeful that Crestone will be encouraged by the project's impact - reducing congestion so that the commercial center will no longer be seen as adding to the traffic problem, which would in turn reduce the likelihood of city and neighborhood opposition to the center's eventual development plans.
       The $100,000 Fillmore study is being funded with $65,000 from Crestone and $35,000 from the RTA. Starting last March, the study has involved numerous meetings by Traffic Engineering with neighborhood associations in the area and their representatives, as well as Roberts meeting with individual home and business owners.

Westside Pioneer article