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Westside Avenue Action Plan: Gateway to Revitalization

About the Plan

Old Colorado City

The Westside Avenue Action Plan public process identified preliminary infrastructure improvements for W. Colorado and Manitou avenues between N. 31st Street and the US 24 interchange. This segment of W. Colorado and Manitou avenues connects the two National Historic Districts of Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. This planning and preliminary design process was necessary before roadway improvements construction along the corridor could begin.

Goals of the Westside Avenue Action Plan recommendations are to:

  • Provide for safe and efficient transportation along the corridor
  • Create a compatible link between the two vibrant historic districts of Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs
  • Serve as a catalyst for economic revitalization and other future corridor improvements

Elements analyzed:

  • Mobility/Traffic
  • Safety
  • Community/Environmental impacts
  • Utilities
  • Floodplains and drainage
  • Economic opportunities

Objectives of the planning process:

  • Develop complete and consistent documentation of the process, input, analysis and evaluation to support the final plan
  • Identify priority and phasing of potential short-term and long-range multi-modal improvements to the project segment
  • Create a corridor inventory
  • Recommend corridor typical sections and profiles
  • Recommend road right-of-way ownership and road maintenance responsibility
  • Identify feasible alternatives and a preferred alternative
  • Engage stakeholders and citizens in a collaborative public involvement process resulting in support of the Westside Avenue Action Plan

Project Design Challenges

Some of the design challenges have included:

  • Extensiveness of utility undergrounding, realignment of utility storm sewers and electric lines, as well as necessary utility upgrades (approximately six miles of utility work has been determined to be needed)
  • Age of some of the utility and storm drainage infrastructure requires upgrading
  • Numerous utility connections to private properties resulting from undergrounding work
  • Rights-of-way alignment impacts
  • Americans with Disability Act improvements
  • Fountain Creek relocation necessary to construct a new, more efficient bridge at Colorado Avenue and Columbia Road, replacing the original bridge built in 1934. Renamed by the public to Adams Crossing Bridge, the structure needs replacing along with creek upgrades and stormwater and drainage improvements

Plans for the project include:

  • New road configuration and realignment: detailed designs of the 3-lane alternative (one lane in each direction and a dedicated center left turn lane), the new alignment of W. Colorado Avenue between Columbia and Ridge roads, and property access
  • Intersection improvements: new stoplights at Columbia and Ridge roads, and interchange improvements
  • Multi-modal facilities: new dedicated bike lane on both sides of the road, pedestrian sidewalks, new pedestrian bridge over Fountain Creek, bus stops, and a new transit/bike hub
  • Midland Trail: undercrossing at Fountain Creek under the Adams Crossing Bridge, connecting the Midland Trail where there is currently a missing segment, and new trail alignments

Project Budget Impacts: While an exact dollar amount has not yet been determined, additional funding will be required for construction of all the recommended improvements and resulting impacts along the corridor. Challenges impacting the project budget include:

  • Extensiveness of utility undergrounding and relocation (approximately six miles of utility work has been determined to be needed)
  • Age of some of the utility and storm drainage infrastructure requires upgrading
  • Numerous utility connections to private properties resulting from undergrounding work
  • Rights-of-way alignment impacts
  • Americans with Disability Act improvements
  • Fountain Creek relocation necessary to construct a new, more efficient bridge at Colorado Avenue and Columbia Road
The original budget established for the project was approximately $15 million. Preliminary designs have been completed for transportation, utility and stormwater/drainage improvements, as well as public amenities from the public process.

Cost estimates for construction of the base project (transportation and infrastructure work) within the study limits is currently estimated at approximately $23 million and include:

  • Roadway work required for the recommended typical section
  • Property and utility impacts
  • Alignment impacts from Columbia to Ridge roads

Additional project elements (while not required to move forward with the base project, are being estimated separately), is currently estimated at approximately $2 million and include:

  • Street light upgrade in the Manitou Springs portion of the project
  • Aesthetic differentiation in the Manitou Springs portion of the project
  • Upgraded landscaping
  • Midland Trail extension through the Colorado Department of Transportation
  • Utility upgrades and services – (not included as costs have not yet been determined)
  • Adams Crossing Bridge additional aesthetic treatments

With the final design process underway and the unavoidable challenges of some of the improvements becoming more obvious, the project team is now able to “sharpen the pencil” to establish more refined cost estimates associated with all aspects of the project.

Manitou Springs

Development of the Westside Avenue Action Plan was driven by Community Values to ensure it meets the goals and objectives identified by residents, business and property owners and others impacted by the study. A thorough understanding of the transportation, economic and environmental Corridor Context ensures the plan fits within that context. A Collaborative Analysis process involved stakeholders in the identification and evaluation of reasonable alternatives. That process resulted in the identification of the preferred three-lane cross-section (one through lane in each direction with a center left-turn lane).

Screening Criteria
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Screen criteria applied during the decision-making process for the recommended roadway configuration and alignment (based on project goals, public input to community values and technical analysis), and being applied during the final design and budgeting phase of the project include:

  • Drainage: lack of accommodation for existing drainage along Colorado and Manitou avenues
  • Access: full and quality access throughout the corridor (ability to allow all turn movements to and from a parcel) is a key element of economic vitality and an expressed community value
  • Ridge Road Geometry: does not have a high traffic volume today, but is a primary access point connecting the Garden of the Gods and Red Rock parks. Need for improved safety that does not preclude intersection treatments
  • Midland Trail: a community asset connecting Downtown Colorado Springs to Old Colorado City, access to Red Rock Park, access to the Garden of the Gods and to Manitou Springs. The trail typically follows Fountain Creek but stops from the east at Ridge Road, then picks back up at Columbia Road to the west and continues along Fountain Creek west to Manitou Springs. It is the desire of the City of Colorado Springs and an expressed community value that the missing link of the trail be connected and that it continue to follow Fountain Creek and have a safe crossing of Colorado Avenue.
  • Environmental: preservation or enhancement of environmental resources is an expressed community value. Environmental resources considered within the corridor include: historic sites, districts, and bridges; air quality, Fountain Creek water quality and resources, floodplains, biological, and Midland Trail recreation.
  • Property impacts: repurposing existing facilities and maintaining the historic significance in the corridor is an expressed community value. Given the limited size of the parcels along the corridor, small property impacts can have a significant impact on parking, and consequently, the commercial use of the parcel.
  • Multi-modal: Mountain Metro Transit route 3 has one of the highest ridership per hour in its service area. Maintaining and improving the quality of service for transit riders along Colorado Avenue is a high priority. It is an expressed community value to have accessibility to transit and efficient movement of all transit users.
  • Livability: Transforming Colorado Avenue into a livable corridor is an expressed community value. Components that contribute to a livable community include: a vibrant economy, social wellbeing, arts, culture and recreation, and a feeling of safety. These components can be expressed through the incorporation of landscaping, public gathering places, bikeway/trail enhancements, incorporating aesthetically pleasing places, offering a variety of housing options, and incorporation of art.
  • Constructability: The construction phase of the preferred alternative may take up to 12 months in duration. Construction phasing will have an impact on existing businesses and the alignment alternative recommended best reduces construction duration or best accommodates existing traffic. Construction will not be allowed during the peak tourism season to help in reducing impacts to local businesses.
  • Project Purpose and Need: The purpose and need of this project is to serve as a catalyst for economic revitalization in the corridor by providing for safe and efficient multimodal transportation along the corridor resulting in a compatible link between the two vibrant and historic districts of Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.
  • Implementation: Funding from the extension of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority have been identified to fund this project. Additional funding options will need to be identified to implement all recommended aspects of the project
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Logo of the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado
Logo of the City of Manitou Springs, Colorado
Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority
Logo of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)