A look at Colorado Springs' troubled business corridors (copy)

Looking south along south Academy Boulevard from Platte Avenue in 2016. The city of Colorado Springs is planning to rebuild South Academy Boulevard from Bijou Street to Airport Road in the first phase of $36 million project.

Colorado Springs is planning a $36 million project to rebuild south Academy Boulevard.

The project, likely to take place in 2022, is expected to replace failing pavement, improve drainage and provide a new 10-foot-wide sidewalk for pedestrians, cyclists and others, said Robin Allen, city project manager.

Work is scheduled to take two years and will be spread over two phases starting with the section between Bijou Street and Airport Road.

The second phase will replace pavement between East Fountain Boulevard and Jet Wing Drive, according to the city. In the second phase, crews will replace pavement that has settled over an old landfill just south of Astrozon Boulevard, Allen said.

The redesigned roadway will have improved drainage that will prevent water from "ponding" along the road, she said. 

Roadway reconstruction is expected to coincide with the redevelopment of the Mission Trace Shopping Center at Hancock Expressway and Academy Boulevard, where developers are planning to build 280 affordable housing units, The Gazette reported previously. The housing development will likely drive additional commercial development such as retail stores and restaurants, said Bob Cope, the city's economic development officer. 

"Mission Trace is a complex project and I could see it being under construction at the same time as the rebuild (of Academy), allowing them both to be completed around the same time," he said. 

The South Academy corridor has declined a bit in recent years as retailers followed new housing construction to the north and east sections of the city But now, with property in southeast Colorado Springs being more affordable than other areas and Amazon putting in new facilities expected to open in 2021 near the Colorado Springs Airport, the area is expected to see reinvestment, Cope said. 

Minivan on a mission to inspect every mile of pavement in Colorado Springs

In addition to replacing pavement, the road reconstruction will change the design of the Hancock Expressway and the south Academy Boulevard intersection to eliminate the ramps and make it a traditional square intersection, Allen said. The change will increase pedestrian safety by reducing the number of lanes a pedestrian needs to cross and prevent sideswipe accidents from cars trying to merge onto Academy Boulevard.

The change will also create more usable space for future development, free up space for a future transit station on the southwest corner of the intersection, and create better business access for the stores at this intersection, she said.

The work will be paid for through the 1% sales tax in El Paso County that is allocated through the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority.

During construction, the city expects to keep two lanes of traffic open in either direction at all times, Allen said.

City officials expect to hold a remote public meeting about the reconstruction from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. A link to the meeting can be found at Coloradosprings.gov. Residents can also listen to the meeting by calling 720-617-3426 and use conference ID 596 763 773#.

Contact the writer at mary.shinn@gazette.com or (719) 429-9264.

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