BUFFERED BIKE LANES

Cyclists ride eastbound on Research Parkway at Windy Hill Drive in 2016, in the buffered bike lane that was later removed.

Construction on an interchange at Powers Boulevard and Research Parkway could commence next fall if $40 million is allocated for the project, state transportation officials said Tuesday.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has a long list of prospective road projects for rapidly growing El Paso County. But almost everyone agrees: A grade-separated interchange at Powers and Research is the most critical project for the Pikes Peak region.

CDOT studies of Powers Boulevard show that the interchange would increase capacity and improve safety on the road.

But the project hinges on whether the state Transportation Commission approves the funding, said CDOT Regional Director Karen Rowe.

The project’s design is almost complete, and construction could start in the fall of 2020 if the funding is approved this fall.

“The things like the great separated interchange on Powers Boulevard, if not done, will bring us to an economic standstill,” Colorado Springs City Councilman Wayne Williams said during a meeting Tuesday with CDOT and regional officials. “The state Legislature needs to provide the funding to CDOT so they can actually address these needs.”

CDOT also has applied for a federal grant to expand the shoulder of I-25 between South Academy and Fountain boulevards. If the grant’s awarded in October, the project eventually would provide space for protective barriers to flank the interstate in the area, where at least three traffic deaths have occurred this year, Rowe said.

Other projects on CDOT’s list are years out, including an expansion of Interstate 25 through the city with auxiliary lanes added between the exits of Fillmore Street and Garden of the Gods Road.

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@JessySnouwaert

Jessica is a 2019 intern at The Gazette. She is a Colorado native who is currently a student at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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