Black Forest Road Corridor Widening

Planning Phase

About

The area of Colorado Springs along the three miles of Black Forest Road between Woodmen and Old Ranch roads has experienced considerable growth over the past several years, with continued growth projected. Much of the area, as well as the arterial connections to Black Forest Road (Research Parkway/Marksheffel Road and Briargate Parkway/Stapleton Road), is projected to be developed within the next five to ten years. Several large developments have already been constructed in this area. A cohesive plan is needed for future improvements or widening in this area of Black Forest Road. The existing and proposed development requires more capacity on this section of Black Forest Road than the current two-lane section provides.

Black Forest Road is classified as a Principal Arterial to serve as the primary corridor for travel in the area between Woodmen and Old Ranch roads. As development continues rapidly, the City of Colorado Springs has initiated a Corridor Widening Study. The study establishes an implementation plan to meet current and future capacity needs. It enables the City to move forward with future project design phases as funding becomes available for needed improvements and widening of Black Forest Road for this three-mile segment.

The Corridor Plan includes: 

  • Improvements Corridor Preservation and Implementation Plan
  • The required number of road lanes and signalization
  • Future bike, trail, and pedestrian accommodations
  • Water quality and detention
  • Erosion mitigation of Cottonwood Creek in the project area and the channel south of Research Parkway
  • Replacement of the Cottonwood Creek Bridge

The project largely is within the City of Colorado Springs with a portion in El Paso County. There have been ongoing discussions between the City and El Paso County to transfer county ownership of Black Forest Road from Wooden Road to Old Ranch Road to the City.  Currently, the City of Colorado Springs has jurisdiction along Black Forest Road primarily south of Research Parkway, with the exception of the west side of Black Forest Road from Vollmer to Cowpoke roads. El Paso County has jurisdiction along with the remainder of Black Forest Road.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions about the project heard most from the public.

What short-term plans is the City considering to address traffic backups along Black Forest Road occurring from the stop signs at Cowpoke Road and Research Parkway?

The City recognizes there is a traffic congestion on Black Forest Road north of Woodmen Road and is working on the best approach to address it. We have had meetings with the school districts regarding existing and planned new schools and with developers regarding their residential development plans.  In the short-term, the City's Traffic Engineer and his team are actively looking at ways they can alleviate some of the congestion at Cowpoke Road. The safety of the public is equally important in evaluating any potential changes to the intersections. A temporary traffic signal was installed with traffic at this location being evaluated by early 2020. For an update on short term plans, send an email inquiry to city.engineering@coloradosprings.gov

What long-term plan is the City considering to address overall traffic congestion along Black Forest Road in the surrounding area?

Continued growth in new residential neighborhoods and schools has resulted in traffic increases along Black Forest Road as well as on the surrounding roadway system. Adding permanent traffic signals only to the current two-lane section does not provide a significant reduction in congestion unless other roadway improvements are included with the signals. In addition, conflicts with several existing utilities in these locations have been identified and need to be resolved.

Therefore, in addition to short-term improvements at Cowpoke Road, the City is also working on a long-term plan for future improvements including widening of Black Forest Road between Woodmen and Old Ranch roads.  A plan for long-term corridor improvements was completed in early 2020. We will be reaching out to the community seeking public comment during a public meeting in early 2020.  

CON

Construction

When can we expect to see construction of the improvements?

The overall Corridor Plan for Woodmen Rd to Old Ranch Rd was presented at the Public Meeting. The design will now focus on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) funded segment of the corridor from Woodmen Rd to Research Pkwy. Construction is expected to take place from 2021 to 2023.

Development

Why is the City approving more housing developments before the Black Forest Road is widened?

These developments have been through the necessary requirements to continue their growth.  It is only now that the need for a wider Black Forest Road is occurring. The City is not able to stop development on privately-owned property that has been approved through the official development process to wait for the roadway widening, but we’re working toward widening the roadway in response to the growth.

Why has the City approved developments along Black Forest Road of higher density lots, which changes the view corridor coming out of the forest?  Why isn’t the City maintaining an open space buffer in the wildland urban interface along Black Forest Road?

This is a land use question rather than a roadway corridor question. There is an approved Master PlanA plan for the development of a portion of the city that contains proposed land uses, a generalized transportation system, and the relationship of the area included in the plan to surrounding property. for Wolf Ranch.  The Black Forest Road Widening Project is focused on the roadway improvements necessary for the future traffic.  Land use issues are for City Planners and Planning Commission and they should be contacted on these issues.

Has the Black Forest Preservation Plan been taken into consideration with the Corridor Widening Plan?

Yes, the project team has reviewed the Black Forest Preservation Plan as part of the Corridor Development process.  It is one of the many planning documents considered in evaluating needed Black Forest Road improvements.

Why didn't the developers build the road?

Requirements for developers to build arterial roadways are determined at the annexation and planning levels of the development.  The developers have built other arterial roadways such as Research Parkway and Vollmer Road that connect to Black Forest Road.  The City determined that Black Forest Road is a regional need and public funding is being allocated to improve the roadway.

Funding

How is this project funded?

This project is funded through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) as an A-List project.

Future Road Network

Are the extensions for Briargate Pkwy, Stapleton Dr and Marksheffel Rd being considered in design of Black Forest Road?

The Black Forest Rd traffic analysis includes traffic projections for 2045 that include extensions of Briargate Pkwy, Stapleton Dr and Marksheffel Rd.  Specific intersections will be designed to accommodate those future connections.

When are extensions planned for Briargate Pkwy, Stapleton Dr and Marksheffel Rd?

Briargate Pkwy is being extended by developers and is expected in 5-10 years. Stapleton Dr is being extended by El Paso County and the initial design is just underway. Please contact El Paso County with questions about Stapleton Dr. The City is currently constructing a bridge over Sand Creek for the future Marksheffel Rd extension. Developers will be completing the roadway portion of the extension.

Habitat and Wildlife

Is there anything being done to preserve the wildlife habitat and provide animal crossings?

This project is building Black Forest Rd from Woodmen Rd to Research Pkwy. The majority of the wildlife habitat is north of Research and your comment will be passed on for consideration with the future project. For the portion of the roadway being constructed, the City may incorporate warning signs for drivers.

How will the corridor plan help preserve the rural nature of the Black Forest area?

The roadway section transitions as it gets closer to Old Ranch Road and the forest.  The roadway section north of Old Ranch Road is currently planned to remain a two-lane road with adding lanes south of Old Ranch Road and then raised medians south of Briargate Parkway.

Mailboxes

Will mailboxes be relocated to the east side of Black Forest Rd for properties north of Research?

This project is only constructing from Woodmen Rd to Research Pkwy.  Existing mailboxes along the roadway within the construction limits will be relocated to an appropriate location after coordinating with property owners and the US Post Office.  Future improvements north of Research Pkwy will be completed with another project. If there is a current concern for a location north of Research Parkway, please contact the US Post Office about the procedure for relocating mailboxes.

MultimodalIncluding more than one mode of transportation. For example, a facility that accommodates lanes for motorized vehicles, bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit stops.

Is there a plan for pedestrian and other multimodal accommodations?

The ultimate planned section for Black Forest Road includes on street bike lanes and a 10’ wide sidewalk on the west side for multi-use as well as signalized pedestrian crossings at major intersections.  It also includes planning for future connections to trails along Woodmen Road and Cottonwood Creek.  How much of those facilities are built now is dependent on more detailed cost estimates and the available funding?

Noise

Will noise walls be constructed along Black Forest Rd?

Answer:  Noise walls will not be constructed along Black Forest Rd. The City does not have a policy for noise abatement.

Right of Way

What is the proposed width of right-of-way for Black Forest Rd, and is the widening happening to the east or west?

Answer:  The original road right-of-way (ROW) was 60 feet and the proposed ROW is 120 feet. Previous developments have consistently dedicated 30 feet of additional ROW on their plats for the future widening. The proposed design assumes 30 feet of widening on each side of the road to align with previous platted developments.

Street Lighting

Will streetlights along Black Forest Road be added and how bright will they be at night?

During design, streetlights will be evaluated for the Black Forest Road Corridor.  Surrounding major streets only have streetlights at intersections (for example Research Parkway and Vollmer Road).  The intent would be to match the existing street lighting in the area.

Traffic

How will speed along Black Forest Rd be controlled?

The road is being designed for a posted speed of 40 mph. The lack of curves on road makes it difficult to control speed except by speed limit signs. Speed enforcement is the best method to help control speed in this case.

Can interim improvements be made at the existing intersections to help traffic congestion before widening Black Forest Rd?

In some locations, such as Cowpoke Rd, it is difficult to build interim improvements due to existing utilities. Please contact City Traffic with your specific concerns related to this question or other concerns outside of current project limits.

Will the road be closed during construction?

The exact phasing for construction has not yet been determined.  However, it is anticipated that the road can be phased with minimal closures of Back Forest Road.  An exception might include very short-term lane closures such as when setting bridge girders, where the safety of the operation is critical.  Those type of measures typically occur in less than one day for each operation and may take place at night or other off-peak times.

Will additional traffic signals be added along Black Forest Rd?

The project is planning on installing traffic signals at major intersections.

Will this project be under construction at the same time as the Powers and Research Interchange?

There is ongoing coordination between the two project teams. At this time, it appears very likely that construction for the two projects will overlap; however, the intent is to maintain the current one lane of traffic in each direction on Black Forest Rd. Traffic impacts will be coordinated between the two projects with the goal of minimizing similar impacts to traffic at the same time.

How much of Black Forest Rd is being widened now, and how were those limits defined?

A Traffic Analysis and Corridor Plan were developed from Woodmen Rd to Old Ranch Rd. The next phases of design will focus on construction to widen from Woodmen Rd to Research Pkwy. This segment is funded as a PPRTA A-List project. Additional improvements north of Research are identified in the 2040 Major Transportation Corridor Plan; however, funding for these improvements has not been confirmed.

Are roundabouts being considered for intersections on Black Forest Road?

Roundabouts have a few limitations: Two lane roundabouts that accommodate tractor-trailers/school busses/ public transit busses will have a larger footprint than a typical intersection and will require additional ROW; Balanced traffic flow between all four legs is ideal to operate well; A corridor with a heavy commuter pattern (most vehicles going one direction in the morning and then returning in the evening) could cause long delays on side roads; The overall distance pedestrians need to walk is often longer around a roundabout.  It was concluded that coordinated traffic signals would better accommodate future traffic.  Traffic signals can also adapt to significantly different traffic patterns, like drop-off and pick-up at nearby schools.

Will access to properties along Black Forest Road be maintained?

Black Forest Road from Woodmen Road to Research Parkway is the extent of the funding for construction.  This section is anticipated to be a full urban section and raised medians are provided for safety considerations.  The plan is to provide driveways with the same access locations as exist today but change some of them to Right-In/Right-Out accesses due to traffic volumes not warranting full access movement. Drivers wishing to make a left turn will be able to perform a U-turn at the next signalized intersection to access the driveway.

What is the City doing about Woodmen Road congestion (traffic backs up during rush hour there now)?

There are no current plans for further improvements to Woodmen Road in this area.  This project will evaluate restriping at Woodmen Road to improve operations.  Build-outs of Research/Marksheffel and Briargate/Stapleton will help reduce traffic on Woodmen as well.

What is planned for Black Forest Rd south of Woodmen Rd?

A similar four-lane section with turn lanes is planned. Ongoing developments in this location will build improvements as part of their development plans.

Funding 

Improvements of Black Forest Road (Woodmen Road to Research Parkway) has funding through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority II (PPRTA) as an “A” list project.  Additional City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County funding for construction is possible.

  • Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority II (PPRTA II) identifies an “A List” project to widen Black Forest Road to a four lane Principal Arterial cross-section from Woodmen Road to Research Parkway, including a new bridge over Cottonwood Creek.
  • PPRTA II identifies a “B List” project to widen Black Forest Road to a four-lane Principal Arterial cross-section from Research Parkway to Old Ranch Road.

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