The new falcon herald logo.
Feature Articles

CDOT announces big plans for Powers Boulevard

Cruising along Powers Boulevard at 65 mph (70 mph in non-urban areas) minus traffic signals between Highway 83 on the north end and Fontaine Boulevard on the south could be a reality in 2030, if an environmental assessment by the Colorado Department of Transportation is cleared.CDOT has proposed the Powers Freeway, connecting to Interstate 25 on its north end and I-25 at Highway 16 on the south end. The plan will require the relocation of 17 businesses and the removal of 23 residences, said Mark Andrew, CDOT engineer.The proposed freeway will be six lanes wide from the north end to Milton E. Proby Parkway, with an additional acceleration/deceleration lane in each direction and 8-foot shoulders. South of Milton E. Proby, the freeway will be four lanes wide with 12-foot shoulders.Andrew presented the assessment to the El Paso County Board of Commissioners in July.CDOT’s plan includes three overpasses and 11 interchanges from Woodmen Road to Fontaine Boulevard. The section of Powers Boulevard north of Woodmen Road will also have several interchanges or overpasses.Andrew said if nothing is done to improve traffic flow on Powers Boulevard, drive times between Woodmen Road and Fontaine Boulevard will increase from 24 minutes to 43 minutes by 2035. Traffic volume will increase by 88 percent.As a freeway, drive time will go down to 17 minutes, he said.Commissioners Sallie Clark and Amy Lathen said they were concerned that if nothing is done about Powers Boulevard, it will end up like Academy Boulevard.Lathen said when she was a child, a real estate agent referred to Academy Boulevard as “blood alley,” and Clark said when she first moved to Colorado Springs, a radio station played a jingle with the words “pray for me, I drive Academy.”CDOT’s plan includes an additional three miles of noise wall to mitigate traffic noise that would rise above 66 decibels in residential areas.Commissioner Jim Bensberg said he dislikes noise walls because they’re like rat mazes that block the view of scenery, other vehicles and neighborhoods.”I also think it’s a bit odd that people want to build so close to a facility that’s really analogous to an interstate,” Bensberg said.Clark said she also dislikes noise walls and would prefer berming, sound-deadening pavement or other techniques to reduce noise from the freeway.No matter the decision on noise walls, Commissioner Wayne Williams said the assessment will be important to everyone, including merchants, homeowners and investors, so they know what to expect along the corridor.In the 1990s, Williams said none of the assessments for El Paso County projects had been completed and the county commissioners at the time didn’t push CDOT to get them done. So, when transportation bonds were approved in 1999, El Paso County had no ready projects and bond monies went elsewhere.”If Congress passes something that provides dollars for ready-to-go projects, we need to be ready to go,” Williams said.Andrew said CDOT has already spent $10 million preparing the assessment and $11.2 million acquiring rights of way. Of that $11.2 million, $6.1 million came from the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority 1 percent sales tax.CDOT estimates the total cost of construction going forward at $730 million – a number Andrew said is conservative.Funding is another matter.”Right now, we don’t have any secured funding for any interchanges along the corridor. However, we’re prepared to deliver Airport/Stewart as the first project this winter,” Andrew said.Fixing the problem of Airport Road and Stewart Avenue in 2012 to 2013 is a top-five priority of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments in their 2035 plan, which is the guide for CDOT to decide what to build first, he said.Once the assessment gets final approval in November, CDOT plans to put together a design-build package for Airport/Stewart, Andrew said.”We’re optimistic we’re going to get funding for that project,” he said, adding that the price tag is $50 million.Meanwhile, Andrew said CDOT is looking at spending $14 million to build the interchanges where Briargate Parkway and Union Boulevard intersect Powers Boulevard.As for the other interchanges and overpasses, Andrew said construction will start in 2020 and finish up by 2030, with each project taking about two years to complete.The commissioners voted 4-0 in support of the environmental assessment. Commissioner Dennis Hisey was absent.Editor’s note: The New Falcon Herald intends to follow up on the potential displaced businesses and residents.

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers