Traffic drives along Colorado Avenue Saturday, July 27, 2014, between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs in an area called "no man's land." (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
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FILE - Traffic drives along Colorado Avenue Saturday, July 27, 2014, between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs in an area called "no man's land." (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

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Another milestone is coming in the $30 million effort to revitalize the stretch of West Colorado Avenue that links Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.

Ridge Road will be permanently closed between Colorado Avenue and West Pikes Peak Avenue starting Monday, when crews will begin transforming the block into a plaza for pedestrians, cyclists and bus riders, according to a news release from El Paso County.

The plaza, expected to open in the fall, is part of the Westside Avenue Action Plan, which will revamp the 1.5-mile span of West Colorado Avenue known as "No Man's Land" on the border of Colorado Springs and its neighbor to the west.

The plaza will have bike racks, a bike repair vending machine and a separate lane for Mountain Metro Transit buses that will allow passengers to safely load and unload without disrupting traffic. The new space also will feature upgraded sidewalks, lighting, landscaping and other enhancements, according to the county.

"The plaza serves as a pedestrian, transit and bike connection point along the corridor and improves the aesthetic of the area," County Project Manager Dennis Barron said in a statement. "It will also improve overall traffic flow with the addition of a bus lane for pickup and drop off that will be coordinated with traffic signal phasing."

Drivers who wish to reach Pikes Peak Avenue and Ridge Road can take Colorado Avenue to South 36th or South 34th streets. A traffic study recommended turning the section of Ridge Road into a plaza - an idea that area residents supported during a public comment process, county officials said.

The Westside Avenue Action Plan, slated for completion in December, will transform the four-lane span of Colorado Avenue - which becomes Manitou Avenue - from 31st Street to U.S. 24 into a two-lane avenue bisected by a center turn lane and flanked with bike lanes, widened sidewalks and vintage streetlights. Most of the project is being paid for by sales tax collections through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. Other agencies and entities, including the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Springs Utilities and Manitou Springs, are chipping in funds.

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Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108

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