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Falcon drainage tops the list for road work

Last month, Andre Brackin, engineer for El Paso County’s Public Services Department, presented a list of the highest-priority road maintenance projects for unincorporated areas of the county to the board of county commissioners.At the top of the list: an update to the Falcon drainage basin study. Drainage problems are having a big impact on Falcon area roads, especially south of Highway 24, Brackin said.”We can’t really get an answer on what to do out there until we get this study updated,” he said.Brackin’s list is comprised of 23 projects that will cost $23,525,000 to complete.Currently, $4.9 million is available for road maintenance, some of the dollars coming from the road and bridge fund and some from the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority, he said.Commissioner Amy Lathen said the county’s budget director would prefer holding $500,000 in reserve.”Given our current construction climate, this is the time to spend the money we have,” Commissioner Dennis Hisey said.”Let’s spend the money the people paid in tax dollars. Let’s get the projects done; let’s get money flowing into the community,” said Commissioner Wayne Williams.By a 3-to-0 vote, the commissioners decided to spend $4.7 million on 11 projects, keeping $200,000 in reserve:

  • Falcon drainage basin study update, $200,000
  • Black Forest and Burgess Road intersection improvement, $300,000*
  • Fountain Mesa drainage ditch, $300,000
  • Kearney Avenue South and Loomis Avenue intersection improvement, $400,000
  • Calhan Highway, from Highway 94 to Judge Orr Road, $1 million
  • Peyton Highway, from Murphy Road to Sweet Road, $875,000
  • Peyton Highway for 1.5 miles south of Falcon Highway, $375,000
  • Bennett Basin crossing at Judge Orr Road, $400,000 – already in progress to repair the washout between Highway 24 and Judge Orr Road
  • Study and concept plan for Highway 105, from I-25 to Furrow, $200,000
  • Gleneagle and Struthers intersection study, $50,000
  • County Line and Black Forest Road, $500,000 for right of way purchases
*$500,000 had already been committed and was not included in the $4.7 million.The Calhan Highway and Peyton Highway projects are total reconstructions, Brackin said, adding that it might be most cost-effective to grind up the existing asphalt and use it as the new base.Before the BOCC’s decision, Calhan resident Kirt Bailey spoke to the board.”I’ve lived on Calhan Highway since the summer of 2002. I’ve seen minimal maintenance done on the road. It’s never had any crack sealing done, the edges are deteriorating, and we keep getting more and more potholes,” Bailey said.”My wife is disabled and underwent lower back and neck surgery. Every time I have to drive that road with her in the car, it’s like putting her through a torture chamber.”Bailey said he didn’t understand why Calhan Highway has been so neglected, while other roads seem to get repaved regularly.Williams addressed the issue.”Our pavement management system gives priority to getting the most bang for the buck,” Williams said. “It’s millions of dollars to fix Calhan Highway; whereas, it’s more cost-effective to do others because you can get by with an overlay as opposed to rebuilding the road.”So that’s why you will see a road that’s in better condition than another road get treatment because it’s cost-effective to do that.””If that’s the policy the county wants to follow, I think somebody needs to re-evaluate the policy and reset some priorities,” Bailey said. “That’s not good money management. That’s not good care of the county.”Williams said the road problem has been getting worse for decades because taxes have been “so low for years, people did not pay enough money to take care of the roads.””Prior to the passage of the PPRTA, there was simply inadequate money to do road maintenance in this county,” he said. “Some of the properties on [Calhan Highway] pay $89 a year in county property taxes, so when you have that, there’s not enough money.”Several Falcon area projects didn’t make the cut:
  • A roundabout at McLaughlin Road and Old Meridian Road, $750,000. Brackin said this intersection has an accident history, but Lathen said there’s not enough traffic and development activity to put the roundabout at the top of the list.
  • Eastonville Road from Londonderry Drive to Snaffle Bit Road, $1 million. Brackin said this segment was chip sealed in 2009. With 1,600 trips per day, he said it should be paved “in the very near future or we’re going to start seeing increased potholing and other degradation with this kind of traffic.” Lathen said she hopes the road will hold up so that within the next five years the county can partner with developers to get the road paved.
  • Woodlake Road, $750,000.Brackin said this road requires complete reconstruction from Hodgen Road to Meridian Road.
  • Reconstruction of two 2-mile segments of Peyton Highway, south of Highway 94, $1 million
  • Curtis Road Corridor Study, $350,000
Williams asked Brackin to come up with a list of projects for a second PPRTA ballot measure in 2012.Brackin said he already has a list of $500 million worth of projects, half of which are capital projects.According to the PPRTA Web site, in 2004, voters approved a measure creating the PPRTA and funded it with a 1-percent sales and use tax increase. In 2014, the PPRTA sales tax will decrease to .45 percent, and the money will be used only to fund maintenance projects. It can’t be used to fund capital projects.

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