Westside Avenue Action Plan: Gateway to Revitalization
FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
Q: How does this study differ from earlier studies of this corridor?
A: One significant difference involves potential funding for recommended transportation infrastructure improvements along the corridor. Construction funding for the Westside Avenue Action Plan construction project was included on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority capital program sales tax extension “A list” of projects. Voters, during the November 2012 election, approved the capital program sales tax, positioning the project to move ahead with construction once the Westside Avenue Action Plan has been completed.
Q: How does the US 24 West Environmental Assessment Study influence this Plan?
A: The US 24 West Environmental Assessment (EA) recommends transportation improvements to enhance mobility and safety along a segment of US 24 that hasn’t seen significant upgrades since it was built in 1964. The Westside Avenue Action Plan will consider the improvements recommended in the US 24 West EA, particularly improvements to cross streets that intersect West Colorado and Manitou avenues, such as North 31st Street and Ridge Road.
Q: When will the Westside Avenue Action Plan be completed?
A: The Westside Avenue Action Plan is now in the final design phase. The plan is anticipated to be complete by early 2016, at which time utility relocation is scheduled to begin.
Q: How will public input influence the Plan’s results?
A: The Westside Avenue Action Plan’s success has been greatly influenced by public involvement and public input.
The Stakeholder Committee, comprised of local residents, representatives of neighborhood associations, and business and property owners, playeds a key role in representing the organizations, businesses and residents along the corridor. The Committee’s input and the community values and issues they have identified have influenced the plan’s outcome.
In addition to several Public Stakeholder meetings, the public also was provided additional opportunities to review and comment on the development of the plan during the Community Public Meeting/Open House.
Q: Why won’t the Westside Avenue Action Plan address issues like crime, homelessness and panhandling?
A: The Plan is a transportation infrastructure study that is exploring potential enhancements to mobility in the study corridor. Social issues were not included in the scope of work for this study; however, officials from the collaborating agencies and municipalities anticipate that the recommended infrastructure improvements will lead to economic revitalization, which could help in addressing those social issues.
Q: Why doesn’t the Westside Avenue Action Plan include developing a new identity for the corridor?
A: The contract awarded by El Paso County is for a transportation improvements study. It did not include a community renaming/rebranding effort. The community itself is in a better position to develop a long-term identity for the corridor. The study’s sponsor organizations developed the study title, "Westside Avenue Action Plan," as a way to identify the general location of what will be proposed corridor transportation infrastructure improvements along West Colorado and Manitou avenues, from N. 31st Street to the US 24 interchange. The term "Action Plan", developed by the Project Management Team, communicates that the study will result in an action plan for improvements.
Q: Who is paying for the Westside Avenue Action Plan and how much will it cost to complete?
A: The Colorado Department of Transportation is funding $300,000 for the Westside Avenue Action Plan through a federally funded Regional Project Priority Program.
Q: What is the projected cost to construct the Plan’s recommendations?
A: The projected cost will not be known until the Plan is complete and final recommendations are identified.
Q: What is the funding mechanism anticipated to pay for the construction?
A: Transportation infrastructure improvements for W. Colorado and Manitou avenues are on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s (PPRTA) list of projects to be funded through a 55-percent-of-one-cent sales tax beginning in 2015. Voters approved the capital program tax extension during the November 2012 election.
Q: When will construction of corridor improvements begin?
A: Since voters approved the PPRTA capital program extension, funding for construction of projects will be available beginning in January 2015; however, funding priorities for PPRTA Extension projects have not been established at this time, so it is difficult to predict when money will be available to begin construction.
Q: How long will it take to complete construction of the improvements recommended through the Westside Avenue Action Plan?
A: Until construction funds are available and a contractor is selected, a construction schedule cannot be established.
Q: Will the plan address corridor jurisdiction or annexation?
- A: The issue of transfer of ownership of the road right-of-way is often easily confused with a change in municipal jurisdiction for private property. People often incorrectly use the term “annexation” interchangeably between these two actions.
- This Westside Avenue Action Plan study addresses “transfer of roadway ownership” of W. Colorado and Manitou avenues.
- “Annexation” refers to a change in municipal jurisdiction for private property, and is not a part of this study.
- An Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) was signed in early 2015 transferring ownership of 1.3 miles of W. Colorado/Manitou avenues road right-of-way from the Colorado Department of Transportation to El Paso County (from East of the U.S. 24 interchange to the 31st Street intersection) to the City of Manitou Springs and/or the City of Colorado Springs. This action will ease multi-jurisdictional maintenance issues that exist today. Once construction of the transportation improvements have been completed, ownership of the road right-of-way will be transferred to the City of Colorado Springs and/or the City of Manitou Springs.
- The transfer of roadway ownership may be a catalyst for possible annexation of private property in the future.
Q: Will the Plan address right-of-way and property issues?
A: Yes. Property owners will be notified if recommended improvements impact private property.
Q: Will the Plan address the gap in the Midland Trail between Ridge Road and Columbia Road?
A: Yes. The study team will examine options to close the existing gap in the Midland Trail between Ridge Road and Columbia Road.
Q: Will drainage and flooding issues be addressed by the Plan?
A: Yes, drainage and flooding issues are a key element of the assessment.
Q: Will bicycle traffic be accommodated along the corridor?
A: Yes. The Westside Avenue Action Plan will examine and recommend accommodations for multiple forms of transportation.
Q: Will Fountain Creek be impacted by the Plan?
A: Elements of Fountain Creek will be considered when it involves drainage and crossings, such as the bridge at Columbia Road. The Plan also will consider historic elements, like the retaining wall near the Timbers Lodge.
Q: Will historic structures be preserved and protected?
A: Historic structures will be identified and examined during the assessment.
Q: Will traffic speeds be impacted by the Plan?
A: Traffic speeds on the corridor will be examined, but potential changes to current speeds will not be identified until later in Plan development. It is important to note that the Stakeholder Committee has suggested that a key community value involves slowing traffic along the corridor. It also supports a typical cross section that will best address safety, mobility and slower traffic as a catalyst for a more “walkable” corridor.
Q: Will the corridor be made safer for pedestrians?
A: Sidewalks, pedestrian crossings and slowing traffic in a way that meets current safety standards will be examined during the assessment.
Q: Will parking along the corridor be addressed by the Plan?
A: Yes, parking capacity will be addressed by the Plan.
Q: Will business access be addressed by the Plan?
A: Yes. The corridor provides access to about 75 businesses and the Plan will examine access points and ways to maintain access while ensuring traffic and pedestrian safety.
Q: Will bus service on the corridor be addressed by the Plan?
A: Yes. Mountain Metro Transit’s bus route along W. Colorado and Manitou avenues is one of the agency’s busiest. The Plan will examine existing bus stops and recommend ways to address route efficiency and passenger safety.
Q: Will the economics and demographics of the corridor be addressed by the Plan?
A: Yes. The plan will identify the direct and indirect effects of proposed improvements on commercial and industrial enterprises. It also will look at potential economic impacts and future opportunities for economic growth.
Demographically, the Plan will examine how potential improvements will impact low income and minority populations, in addition to impacts on community cohesion, safety and security, neighborhoods, and accessibility to public facilities and services.
Q: How will utilities be impacted by the Plan?
A: The study will examine current utility locations. Recommendations could include relocating utility lines underground.
(Current as of June 2015)