Big plans for Springs intersection held up by $40 million shortfall
Special from The Gazette
State transportation officials have big plans for a major eastern El Paso County intersection but no money to pay for them.
Reconstructing Powers Boulevard and Research Parkway would make left turns easier for drivers and crossing the road safer for pedestrians, state officials told county commissioners Sept. 30.
The heavily trafficked crossing would become a “diverging diamond interchange” — similar to the one at Fillmore Street and Interstate 25 — with vehicles on Research crossing to the opposite side at a traffic light so left-turning drivers don’t have to cross oncoming traffic. Powers would run above Research, so cars could get onto a freeway ramp without waiting for a green light.
Where the state will get the estimated $40 million for the reconstruction, though, is still in question.
The design should be completed this year, but the state has no money to “advance the construction or right of way efforts,” said Andy Stecklein, with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“We’re hoping for a 2020 construction scenario.”
The likeliest funding sources are in Senate transportation bills SB 267 and SB 001.
Under SB 267, the money is expected to be available in 2021, but “there is a slight chance” that allocation could be advanced to next summer, Stecklein said.
But so far, the $615 million in spending that the two bills are expected to generate in 2020 doesn’t include money for the interchange.
The state Transportation Commission, which ultimately will approve the spending plan, could allocate money for more projects.
The interchange reconstruction is at the top of a state priority list for the region, said CDOT engineer Shane Ferguson.
The list likely will win approval this month by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments’ board of directors, Ferguson said. Last year, the project team sought input from neighbors, local developers and schools, including nearby Liberty High School.
“As a parent with a child at Liberty High School, this cannot happen soon enough,” said Mark Waller, county commission chairman. “I’ve been, many times, stuck making that lefthand turn on the northbound lanes on Powers, trying to turn left on Research, and it is a four light cycle proposition.”
Civil engineering firm Felsburg Holt & Ullevig assessed several design models for the interchange, including a partial cloverleaf, before settling on the diverging diamond as the best solution, said principal consultant Steve Murray.
“It handles left turns very well. It also handles pedestrian movements very well,” Murray told commissioners.
The design also calls for four signaled pedestrian crossings, he said.
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