Mayor Steve Bach has long held that Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region get shorted their fair share of money by the Colorado Transportation Commission and the Colorado Department of Transportation. Given the emphasis politicians place on ski country and I-25 mountain tunnels, he’s probably on to something. Besides, metropolitan Colorado Springs remains the so-called “second city,” and the second city in any state must guard against second-class treatment by the state and federal governments.
Bach, thankfully, has no intention of taking it. He’s fighting for us, without apology.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Don Hunt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, have done a great job of freeing up transportation cash from the state budget and earlier this month they announced immediate availability of about $300,000 that will no longer be held in reserves.
Bach spoke with transportation officials the morning these funds were announced and he followed up Dec. 20 with a letter to Hunt and Les Gruen, the transportation commissioner for our region. Bach wrote:
Thank you for our conference call conversation last Friday, December 14th. To confirm, we have four (4) State highway-related, urgent public safety matters here where your help is needed. Specifically:
1) Cimarron Interchange with I 25. This is a very dangerous, winding section of I-25 with recurring traffic accidents. The local jurisdictions, through the PPACG, have provided $4M in Metro Funds for the advanced purchase of ROW prior to any CDOT funding of the interchange. CDOT has now provided $7M for preliminary design of the interchange. An additional $95M is needed from CDOT to complete construction.
2) Fillmore Interchange with I 25. Traffic during rush hour backs up onto the through lanes both Northbound and Southbound. The City has committed nearly $7M to the planning, design, and construction of the relocation of Chestnut Street, which is required for the completion of a Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI). The estimated CDOT cost to complete the DDI is an additional $11M.
3) Old Ranch Road Bridges at Powers Boulevard. We’ve had multiple fatalities at this currently on grade intersection. The City has agreed to fund this project in its entirety using PPRTA funds. The estimated cost is $8M. CDOT staff has discussed funding this project in advance of the PPRTA schedule with a four year payback from the City.
4) Stewart Avenue Interchange with Powers Boulevard. Traffic during rush hour backs up onto the through lanes both Northbound and Southbound. The City performed capacity analysis of the existing Powers/Airport intersection and found that adequate capacity for the short-term future (10 years) could be provided with the addition of a through lane in each direction on Powers Boulevard south of Platte Avenue. CDOT staff has agreed with this concept and is planning to fund this improvement with $10M committed FASTER funds.
“Please let us know as soon as possible the approximate start dates for these projects. Thank you.
Steve Bach, Mayor
Thank you, Mayor Bach. Keep beating this drum. Meanwhile, we continue urging other politicians in the region — county commissioners, mayors, legislators and members of city and town councils — to do as Bach has done.
Use his list to politely and respectfully remind Hickenlooper, Hunt, Gruen and other members of the state transportation commission about pressing needs for transportation improvements in the Pikes Peak Region, which is home to more than one in 10 Coloradans. We can’t afford to get lost in the political frenzy to ease I-70 ski traffic.