Westside Avenue Action Plan: Gateway to Revitalization
Corridor History & Challenges
W. Colorado Avenue/Manitou Avenue connects the Old Colorado City district of the City of Colorado Springs with the City of Manitou Springs and serves as a gateway to more than 4 million visitors to the Pikes Peak Region each year. Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs are both National Historic Districts.
Construction of the US 24 Bypass about 30 years ago improved access to the region for many residents and visitors. However, Colorado Avenue/Manitou Avenue is the preferred route for tourists due to local access to shops, motels and attractions.
Over the years the US 24 Bypass has been improved, while the lesser-used business route infrastructure has deteriorated. The land along the 1.5-mile corridor being studied is located in unincorporated El Paso County, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, yet the road itself, despite its local functionality, was the responsibility of the Colorado Department of Transportation (ownership of the road right-of-way has since become the responsibility of El Paso County). The multi-jurisdictional ownership presents obstacles to zoning and public safety enforcement as well as to growth in general.
The bridge at Colorado Avenue and Columbia Street was built in 1934. Currently, the bridge only has pedestrian access on the south side, which does not meet current standards. Additionally, the current storm water system consists of several undersized culverts.
The W. Colorado Avenue/Manitou Avenue supports an average of 23,000 daily trips and provides access to about 75 businesses. The area lacks sufficient pedestrian and bicycle access, storm water drainage, auxiliary lanes, access to businesses and residences and street lighting. As one of the busiest transit routes in Colorado Springs, there are additional pedestrian concerns related to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, access and safety.
Although tourism is an important part of the local economy, this section of W. Colorado Avenue/Manitou Avenue has deteriorated to the point that local tourism officials believe it is a detriment to business. El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs and the City of Manitou Springs believe infrastructure improvements to this corridor will serve as a catalyst for economic revitalization in the area while continuing to support the region’s vibrant tourism industry.
This study has assessed the transportation and infrastructure challenges in the corridor, many of which were identified by stakeholders during one-on-one discussions, stakeholder workshops and public meetings. Areas of concern can generally be grouped into six categories:
- Alternate modes of transportation
- Economic vitality
- Environmental impacts
The recommendations in the final plan balance safety, business access, urban design, corridor functionality and financial feasibility.