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Representative of the broad effort involved in putting the Adams Crossing area project together, a large group of individuals who've participated in one way or another joined the ceremonial act of groundbreaking at the event Dec. 12. The group is standing on the Midland Trail, paralleling Fountain Creek, near the future site of the Adams Crossing Bridge.
Photo by Westside Pioneer

Groundbreaking ceremony: If it's not 'no man's land,' is it Adams Crossing?

      
A small bulldozer (put there by the contractor, Wildcat Construction) provides a backdrop as County Commissioner Sallie Clark speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony in the Garden of the Gods RV Resort for the upcoming project along Colorado/Manitou Avenue west of 31st Street. Clark, a Westside resident and business owner, had been pushing for civic improvements in that area for over a decade.
Westside Pioneer photo
A groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 12 marked the start of a $30.9 million project to upgrade what County Commissioner Sallie Clark described in her speech as “everyone's land.”
       She was referring to the area between Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs, which has long been known as “no man's land.”
       Clark elaborated on her positive theme by stressing the multi-government participation in a lengthy effort to hammer out a plan and find funding for the long-neglected 1.5-mile stretch of Colorado Avenue west of 31st Street. She said the resulting revitalization will spell an end “once and for all” to the old, derogatory term.
       The event was held at the Garden of the Gods Resort campground, just north of the avenue bridge over Fountain Creek, alongside the Midland Trail.
       The campground was chosen for the ceremony because a highlight of the project will be the construction of a new bridge, to be named the Adams Crossing Bridge. This is in honor of Charles Adams, a Civil War veteran, diplomat, Indian-rights advocate and Westside/Manitou businessman, whose house in the late 1800s was northwest of the present-day Columbia Road/Colorado Avenue.
       In those times, the train and streetcar lines intersected Colorado avenue just east of its avenue bridge over the creek. The location was so well known as “Adams Crossing” that the nickname appeared on postcards and government maps for decades after Adams' death in 1895. The modern-day Midland Trail uses the old streetcar right of way west of Columbia Road.
       In a short talk at the ceremony, local historian and Westside Pioneer columnist Mel McFarland pointed out the spot where Adams had lived (within
During his talk at the Dec. 12 groundbreaking ceremony, local historian Mel McFarland points out the nearby, one-time site of Charles Adams' house (about where the tall tree stump stands). The site is now on the property of the Garden of the Gods RV Resort. To McFarland's left is El Paso County Public Works Director Jim Reid, who acted as emcee for the ceremony.
Westside Pioneer photo
what's now the resort property), scarcely 100 feet from the groundbreaking spot. Research by McFarland and other historians had helped convince project planners two years ago to name the new bridge after Adams.
       Regarding the "no man's land" appelation, McFarland previously wrote that he had found that term used for the area between Manitou and what's now Old Colorado City in a newspaper article as far back as 1911. Whether it will now be known as "Adams Crossing" cannot be predicted, but an El Paso County press release after the groundbreaking used that term several times, including in reference to the area as a whole, as follows: "Today the Adams Crossing area has more than 23,000 daily vehicle trips. It provides access to about 75 businesses and serves as a gateway for more than 4 million visitors per year. Critical initial infrastructure and transportation improvements set the stage to revitalize the economy of this former 'no man’s land' and serve as a catalyst for further corridor enhancements."
       The Adams Crossing Bridge will be built just north of the current span (circa 1934). The realignment will put avenue traffic closer to the 13-acre Garden of the Gods RV Resort, northwest of Colorado and Columbia, and require the purchase of about a half-acre from it, according to Ian Horgan, the resort's general manager. But he also pointed out that the business will benefit from the change, through better site access, enhanced “curbside appeal”
This is a slightly edited version of the map that appears in the book, "Pikes Peak Trolleys: A History of the Colorado Springs Streetcar System," by Morris Cafky and John A. Haney. The map in the book is titled "Track Layout, Colorado Springs and Interurban Railway Co., November 1917." The streetcar line and Denver & Rio Grande line going west can be seen converging at Columbia Road just before the bridge, then following the route of what is now the Midland Trail just north of the avenue and the creek. Note that the map-maker used the term, "Adams Crossing." (The editing, done by the Westside Pioneer, adds non-script identifiers for the streetcar and rail lines.)
Edited from "Pikes Peak Trolleys"
and improved safety from the stoplight that will be installed at the Colorado/Columbia intersection.
       “We're really comfortable with the project,” Horgan summed up.
       Another speaker at the groundbreaking was Colorado Springs City Councilmember Merv Bennett, who asserted that one government alone could not have organized the project, but thanks to the city, Manitou and the county developing a formal partnership - with support from Springs Utilities and the Colorado Department of Transportation - "we're getting the impossible done."
       The ceremony was attended by well over 100 people, mostly government officials, development representatives and media.
       Envisioned for over a decade and formalized through a contracted study/design effort since 2012 called the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP), the project will upgrade a roughly 1.5-mile segment of Colorado/Manitou Avenue from 31st Street to just east of Manitou's Highway 24 interchange. Along with the bridge, the work will include storm sewers, underground utilities, intersection improvements, sidewalks, a T-intersection with a pedestrian “plaza” at Colorado Avenue/Ridge Road and a trail extension (including an underground crossing at Adams Crossing).
       Actual WAAP work is not expected to begin right away. County Engineer Jennifer Irvine said that the contractor, Wildcat Construction, is still pulling permits. She confirmed that the earliest work will involve Springs Utilities crews, digging into the street in various locations to upgrade or move lines in preparation for Wildcat's efforts.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 12/12/16; Projects: No Man's Land)

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