As housing developments spring up northeast of Colorado Springs, El Paso County is moving forward with a project that will give residents an eco-friendly option for commuting into the city.
A free parking lot, designed to provide carpoolers with a safe place to leave their vehicles before hitching a ride, is planned for Falcon as part of a roughly $8 million county infrastructure project, said county spokesman Matt Steiner. Officials expect construction of the lot, known as a "Park-n-Ride," to begin in fall 2018.
More than 10 years ago, the county estimated a Park-N-Ride in Falcon would save roughly 6,500 vehicle trips annually, reducing carbon monoxide emissions by more than 3.7 million grams a year, according to a project document filed with the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Since then, emerging communities such as Banning Lewis Ranch have drawn more people to the area, expanding the pool of potential users for the facility.
"Falcon is one of the fastest growing parts of the county," Steiner said. "We, as the county, want to plan for the future and make sure that people have options for carpooling."
The lot, slated to be built south of U.S. 24 near Meridian and Swingline roads, will have 208 parking spaces, according to documents the county filed with Colorado Springs' Land Use Review Division.
It will be the sixth Park-n-Ride in the county. In 2014, a facility opened in Black Forest to cater to carpoolers. The 215-space lot typically sees 10 to 12 cars a day, said Brian Vitulli, a planning supervisor for Colorado Springs' Mountain Metropolitan Transit.
Other locations - on Woodmen Road and Tejon Street in Colorado Springs and in Fountain and Monument - were opened by the Colorado Department of Transportation to serve people using local and regional bus systems.
Data collected by an online city service that pairs local commuters with others looking to share rides to the same destination suggests carpooling is on the rise in Colorado Springs. From January through July, nearly 180 people used Mountain Metropolitan Transit's matching service, up from 12 people during the same time period last year, said agency spokeswoman Vicki McCann.
In addition to building the new lot, the county project will also build a "New" Meridian Road that will extend from U.S. 24 south to Falcon Highway.
The plans are part of a list of voter-approved projects that the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority can finance with taxpayer dollars. County money and a federal grant from the Federal Highway Administration's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program will also pay for the project.
A 2003 study identified the proposed location for the Falcon lot as an ideal spot for a Park-n-Ride, accessible to commuters traveling westward into the city via U.S. 24 and Woodmen. The report was prepared by a consulting firm for the city, county and Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108