The City of Colorado Springs is undertaking a project to extend Centennial Boulevard from Fillmore Street to the I-25/ Fontanero Street interchange. This important roadway extension will provide much needed connectivity and mobility options to the west side of Colorado Springs as well as alleviate traffic congestion along Fillmore Street and Chestnut Street. The new connection will enhance access to future and existing residential developments, recreational areas, and the Veterans Affairs Clinic; improving quality of life for west side residents.
The extension of Centennial Boulevard has been planned by the City of Colorado Springs for more than 30 years. The corridor extension was first planned as a six-lane principal arterial to address travel demand between the Garden of the Gods Corridor and downtown. As land use and growth conditions evolved over time, and the impacts of a principal arterial were reconsidered, the City reclassified the Centennial Boulevard Extension as a four-lane minor arterial. This was formally documented through the City’s Intermodal Transportation Plan of 2001. The extension was included in the original Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) program as a C-list project, but never funded. Now, due to increased development in the area and the growing need for this connection, the project has become a high priority as an A-list project for the extended PPRTA program.
Detailed Project Overview
The Centennial Boulevard Extension project will provide an increasingly critical transportation connection between Fillmore Street and Fontanero Street. Portions of the corridor have been constructed, or partially constructed, through past developments and City projects. The constructed segments of Centennial Boulevard will be evaluated to determine suitability for re-use with minor pavement rehabilitation. Centennial Boulevard is classified as a minor arterial roadway within the project limits, and is expected to consist of a 4-lane curbed typical section, with a closed storm system.
From Van Buren Street to Fontanero Street, the new roadway will pass through highly variable topography. This is expected to require a combination of earthwork cuts and fill, retaining walls, and possible lower speed design criteria. The Centennial Boulevard alignment is expected to be generally controlled by the existing right-of-way north of Monroe Street. South of Monroe Street, the alignment location and typical section is undetermined and will be defined with the Corridor Development Phase.
The general corridor concept was determined during the initial project phase, which evaluated corridor constraints and design possibilities. This phase considered the challenging terrain, adjacent floodplain, utility impacts, and right-of-way constraints along the route south of Van Buren Street. Design plans for the project are at 90 percent completion and have been formally accepted by the City of Colorado Springs. The project has been divided into two construction phases, to align with the current Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) project prioritization and funding availability schedule.
Other aspects the Centennial Boulevard Extension Project include
- Water quality: A Full Spectrum Detention Pond will be constructed at Sondermann Park to protect Mesa Creek and avoid future erosion by accommodating a 100-year storm event. The goal is a slower release of storm water runoff (over a 72 hour timeframe) designed to reduce pollutant loading as well as channel erosion and enlargement.
- Four-foot-wide on-street bike lanes on both sides of Centennial Boulevard.
- Sidewalks on both sides of Centennial Boulevard. The west sidewalk will be a 10’ multi-use path, to better accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists who choose not to use the on-street bike lane. This will connect the Mesa Springs Greenway to Sondermann Park and Broadview Open Space, while allowing for future connections at Fillmore Street. The project will reroute the existing Park maintenance access road at the west end of Fontanero Street to Espanola Street.
- A trail up to Fillmore Street will provide a safe route for students to Coronado High School.
- Street lighting on the outsides of the roadway angled down and toward the medians, based on public input. Landscaping and retaining wall treatments, and curb and gutter.
- The only Mesa Springs neighborhood streets that will connect into Centennial Boulevard will be Chestnut Street, Van Buren Street, and Mesa Valley Road. To avoid cut through traffic into the neighborhood while construction is underway, the Van Buren and Mesa Valley connections will not be opened up until the extension of Centennial Blvd. has been completed.
- Traffic signals warranted for this project are at Chestnut Street, and at the Interstate-25 ramp intersections with Fontanero Street. There is potential in the future for additional intersections to become signalized depending on development of the area, but not with this project as traffic projections do not warrant it at this time.
Phase 1 – Fillmore Street to Van Buren Street
Phase 1 involves constructing the missing section of Centennial Boulevard at the north end of the project by the Veteran’s Clinic, and removal of the existing buildings on properties acquired by the City close to Fontanero Street. Phase 1 is estimated at 10 percent of the overall project work. Some pavement rehabilitation will take place as well as restriping and replacement of barricades. Pavement will be restriped as two lanes from Fillmore Street to Indian Hills and Van Buren Street. Although the gap will be paved and the road will be open to traffic, the Centennial Boulevard extension will remain blocked at Van Buren Street and Mesa Valley Road during this Phase per commitments made to residents to reduce traffic into the neighborhoods. Paving the gap provides construction access to developments, and for completion of a Voluntary Clean-up Plan (VCUP) of an undocumented trash site. There will be no sidewalks placed during Phase 1.
Phase 1 anticipated schedule (based on weather and construction circumstances)
- Construction plans: In development now
- Contractor selection: Early to mid-summer 2017
- Construction start: Late summer/early fall 2017
- Anticipated completion: Late spring/early summer 2018
Property impacts: The design of the road was refined to follow the existing topography, and strategically aligns such that it limits impacts to the adjacent floodplain, neighborhoods and property. There are a small number of properties and/or easements required. Property owners potentially impacted by the project have been contacted by the project team. For the few full properties being acquired by the City, purchase agreements are in place and the standard relocation process (based on the Uniform Relocation Act) is underway. Removal of those structures is anticipated to take place during Phase 1.
Phase 2 – Completion of the Centennial Boulevard extension
Phase 2 of the project entails construction of the Centennial Boulevard roadway extension from Van Buren Street to Interstate-25. After completion of the VCUP, this phase will include earthwork, utility and drainage infrastructure, roadway paving, curbing, pedestrian facilities, lighting, and landscaping for that segment. It also includes finishing details (final striping, signage, pedestrian facilities, lighting, etc.) on the Phase 1 segment north of Van Buren Street. Phase 2 represents approximately 90 percent of the overall project work required.
Phase 2 anticipated schedule:
- VCUP completion by others: Estimated Summer 2019
- The City can begin Phase 2 construction after completion of the VCUP, with anticipated completion of Phase 2 within two years of starting.
- Tentative construction start: Fall 2019
- Tentative construction completion: Summer 2021
Public Meeting for Mesa Springs neighborhood July, 14, 2016
A series of neighborhood meetings and workshops were held during the Preliminary Design Phase of the project. The project team looked to citizens to provide input into various aspects of the project including landscaping, lighting, bike path, connections to the trail/park/open space, aesthetic treatments, and other aspects that reflect priorities of local neighborhood residents, area businesses, the City, and other users of the road based on traffic demands, multimodalIncluding more than one mode of transportation. For example, a facility that accommodates lanes for motorized vehicles, bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit stops. access, water quality, stormwater drainage and aesthetics.
Project Team Obtains Valuable Neighborhood Feedback
A series of neighborhood meetings and workshops took place throughout the design phase of the Centennial Boulevard extension project. Public input into various aspects of the project included landscaping, lighting, bike path, recreational connections to the trail/park/open space, aesthetic/retaining wall treatments, and other aspects of the project that reflect priorities of local neighborhood residents, area businesses, the City, and other users of the road based on traffic demands, multimodal access, water quality, stormwater drainage and aesthetics.
The project team heard from property owners closest to the alignment of the new road their preferences for landscaping and trees as a natural buffer between the road and the neighborhood to absorb potential noise instead of walls. Feedback indicated a desire to minimize noise/visual impacts and to not negatively impact the park, creek or sensitive areas. While the road will slightly encroach on the northeast corner of Sondermann Park, the road was strategically aligned to limit impacts to the creek, floodplain and neighborhood. The new roadway is set down below the existing ground level in most areas and will typically be lower than the neighborhood to the east, for lesser visual and noise impacts.
Mesa Springs neighborhood residents do not want cut through or construction traffic going through the neighborhood and they requested a pedestrian connection across Centennial Boulevard. (Most of the property west of the new road is not public open space but private property owned by developers with future plans for the land. Public access won’t be provided to areas that are privately owned.) A signalized pedestrian crossing will be constructed at Chestnut Street and Centennial Boulevard as well as an un-signalized crossing at Van Buren Street. This intersection will likely be signalized in the future with adjacent development. As recommended by the public, the project team evaluated a signalized mid-block pedestrian crossing and is currently planning to include one as part of the project. This will provide better pedestrian access from the Mesa Springs neighborhood to Sondermann Park and to the Broadview Open Space.
A meeting in the summer of 2016 with property owners took place at the Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning school. An overview of the project was presented followed by breakout table topic workshops for meeting attendees to provide feedback on all aspects of the project and to discuss landscaping/aesthetics options, parks/trails access, and environmental impacts including wildlife, water quality and noise/lighting. Approximately 70 citizens participated in the meeting. The public feedback was incorporated as the project engineers and landscape architects developed the design plans for the new extension of Centennial Boulevard.
Site Visit/Field Tour Provides Property Owners First-Hand Experience of the New Alignment
Several residents with properties located adjacent to the new Centennial Boulevard extension had an opportunity to see where the new alignment will be located through two first-hand experience field tours summer 2016. Participants were divided into two groups led by Aaron Egbert, City Project Manager; and Jason Bonini and Ryan Weaver, AECOM Project Consultants. Following a brief presentation, participants took a two-mile hike along the terrain where the new road alignment will be located.
Questions focused on the exact road location, bike lanes, sidewalks, landscaping, parks/trails access and lighting. “The site tour enabled neighborhood residents to see exactly where the road extension will be constructed in relation to the adjacent neighborhoods and to ask real-time questions,” said Ebert. “We received a lot of input and continue to answer questions and address concerns from the community.”
Landscape Concept Revised Based on Public Input
Prior to beginning the public process for the road extension, the landscaping designs were more formal in nature, with lines and rows of bushes and trees. Based on input from the public, the landscape designs were revised to be “less formal” and have a more natural appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions Based on Public Input (as of May 2017)
What is the need for the project?
The project will provide improved mobility and connectivity to the west side of Colorado Springs and alleviate traffic congestion along Chestnut and Fillmore streets.
The Centennial Boulevard extension has been in the City’s plans for 30 years. The project was on the PPRTA “C” list but other priorities took precedence. It is now on the PPRTA extension “A” list of projects approved by more than 80 percent of the voters. The PPRTA Board is comprised of elected officials from each of the jurisdictions involved and there is a Citizen’s Advisory Committee, all who ensures PPRTA follows through with the items promised in the ballot initiative.
What is the design schedule/construction duration?
Phase 1 (constructing the missing section of Centennial Boulevard north of Van Buren Street). Anticipated schedule (based on weather and construction circumstances)
- Construction plans: In development now
- Contractor selection: Early to mid-summer 2017
- Construction start: Late summer/early fall 2017
- Anticipated completion: Late spring/early summer 2018
Phase 2 anticipated schedule:
- VCUP completion by others: Estimated Dec. 31, 2018
The City can begin Phase 2 construction after completion of the VCUP by the property owner, with anticipated completion of Phase 2 within two years of starting. The date could move up based on completion of the property owner’s clean-up work.
- Tentative construction start: Early 2019
- Tentative construction completion: Late 2020
Where will Phase 2 construction start / what are the construction hours?
Where construction for Phase 2 starts depends on what the contractor decides is the best phasing for the project, as coordinated with and approved by the City. Utility relocation activities often drive the construction-phasing plan. The project will require two construction seasons (approximately 18 to 24 months total). Generally, construction work will take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Any allowances for weekend or night work will require advance approval from the City.
Will dust during construction be mitigated?
The contractor will be responsible for controlling the dust during construction, as required by their permit.
Will noise impacts from the new roadway being evaluated?
Yes, noise impacts are being evaluated and considered as part of the project. Noise levels will vary from property to property. The project is looking at potential impacts at various locations throughout the corridor.
To reduce visual and noise impacts, the road is being designed to sit well below existing ground and neighborhoods in most locations.
Noise levels are also lower when a road is designed for reduced vehicle speeds. The posted speed limit for the completed Centennial Blvd. extension will be 35 mph, which is lower than the City standard for this minor arterial classification of roadway. In addition, the project is being designed with curvature that will result in lower travel speeds. Introducing roadway curves and a raised median will provide a more narrowed feel that will promote lower vehicle speeds (as opposed to a straighter and wider road).
The design team is continuing to consider additional mitigation options for landscaping and privacy fencing. Several property owners have indicated a preference for trees to absorb potential noise instead of walls.
Have environmental studies been conducted?
Although this project does not meet the requirement for conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a Biological Resources Report, Cultural Resources Report, and an Environmental Initial Site Assessment were all prepared for this project. These reviews included threatened and endangered species, wetland habitat, historical structures, and hazardous materials.
The project is avoiding impacts to the creek and floodplain. A slight encroachment of the northeast corner of Sondermann Park and construction of a full spectrum detention pond will be presented to the Parks Board as an improvement for protection of Mesa Creek.
How will storm water and contaminates be captured? Will the creek be impacted?
We’ve designed the alignment such that the road will totally avoid the creek. The typical section for the roadway will utilize curb and gutter to collect storm water into a closed storm system which outlets into a full spectrum detention pond installed as part of the project to protect the creek and avoid future erosion. Full spectrum ponds will hold water for 72 hours for particulates to settle and then released at near-existing flow rates.
Will wildlife be impacted?
We performed a survey of biological resources along the corridor to confirm no adverse impacts to threatened or endangered species for this project. The tendency of wildlife is to follow the creek and the project will avoid impacts to the creek and floodplain. The planned landscaping plant types along the roadway will be deer resistant to discourage their grazing close to the roadway. In addition, the project is analyzing optimal locations for wildlife crossing signs to help alert drivers of possible wildlife in the area.
Are the soils stable enough for the new roadway?
Geotechnical engineers have been performing investigations to evaluate subsurface conditions and necessary mitigation measures to ensure the stability of the roadway and adjacent slopes. While landslides have occurred in the general area, the specific location where the roadway is planned does not have significant risks associated with the soil conditions.
Where will the access be located into Sondermann Park and across Centennial Boulevard?
A concrete sidewalk and bike lanes will run along both sides of the Centennial Blvd. extension. The west sidewalk will be a 10’ multi-use path to better accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists who choose not to use the on-street bike lane. This will connect the Mesa Springs Greenway to Sondermann Park and Broadview Open Space, while allowing for future connections at Fillmore Street. The project will reroute the existing Park maintenance access road at the west end of Fontanero Street to Espanola Street.
Most of the property west of the new road is not public open space but private property owned by developers with future plans for the land. Public access won’t be provided to areas that are privately owned.
A signalized pedestrian crossing will be constructed at Chestnut Street and Centennial Boulevard as well as an un-signalized crossing at Van Buren Street. This intersection will likely be signalized in the future with adjacent development.
Current and projected pedestrian traffic counts into the Park from the neighborhood are not available. However, the project team has been soliciting input from the public on various pedestrian crossing options and levels of usage. Although we have investigated it, a pedestrian tunnel or bridge to cross Centennial Blvd. is not looking feasible due to the structure length and the space required to accommodate an Americans with Disabilities Act gradual grade. As recommended by the public, the project team evaluated a mid-block pedestrian crossing and is currently planning to include a signalized mid-block pedestrian crossing with the project. This will provide better pedestrian access from the Mesa Springs neighborhood to Sondermann Park and Broadview Open Space.
What are the planned connections to Centennial Blvd.?
The only Mesa Springs neighborhood streets that will connect into Centennial Boulevard will be Chestnut Street, Van Buren Street, and Mesa Valley Road. To avoid cut through traffic into the neighborhood while construction is underway, the Van Buren and Mesa Valley connections will not be opened up until the extension of Centennial Boulevard has been completed.
Regarding path connections, adjacent property owners have expressed concern that paths off Washington and Madison streets will just serve to attract homeless and transient populations into the neighborhood. They have expressed they would rather not have paths at Madison and Washington streets.
Where will traffic signals be installed?
The traffic signals warranted for this project are at Chestnut Street and at the Interstate-25 ramp intersections with Fontanero Street. There is potential in the future for additional intersections to become signalized depending on development of the area, but not with this project as traffic projections do not warrant it at this time.
What are the anticipated traffic counts on Centennial Boulevard once completed?
Approximately 15,000 vehicles per day are anticipated to use the new Centennial Boulevard extension when it opens, indicating a need for the connection. This is equivalent to traffic through the Old North End neighborhood on Nevada Avenue.
The City Traffic Criteria Manual describes the different functional roadway classifications and design standards for each type. A minor arterial is described as a four-lane street intended to permit “rapid and relatively unimpeded traffic movement throughout the City and carry high volumes of inter and intra-traffic which connect major land use elements.” Section 15.4, Figure 12, and Section 16.0 of the City Traffic Criteria Manual can be referenced for additional information on the minor arterial roadway classification.
The Centennial Blvd. extension has been classified as a minor arterial.
Current Fillmore traffic counts
Counts Eastbound 11,522
Counts Westbound -- 11,062
Current Chestnut Street traffic counts
Counts Northbound -- 2,057
Counts Southbound -- 3,004
How are traffic counts conducted?
Traffic counts are taken over a two- to three-day period, and sometimes also include turning movements during am and pm peak times. We take the counts when school is in session to capture the busiest timeframe.
Have you considered a roundabout at the Chestnut/Fontanero intersection?
Yes, a roundabout was considered. It would need to be a two-lane roundabout to accommodate the volume of traffic, and the City does not believe a two-lane roundabout is the best solution at this location.
What is the grade from Centennial Boulevard down to Fontanero Street?
It varies but the newly constructed roadway segments will not exceed a 6 percent grade. Centennial Boulevard will not be a designated truck route.
How will the project design promote safety?
The roadway design concept will promote increased safety through several features. We have limited the frequency and location of access points (driveways or intersections) to reduce potential conflict points. We are using a slightly lower design speed than the City Standard for this classification of roadway. Introducing roadway curves and a raised median will provide a more narrowed feel that will promote lower vehicle speeds (as opposed to a straighter and wider road).
Will the project impact crime in the area?
We are working with the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). What they’ve told us:
—Legal panhandling is occurring in this area; however, very few illegal homeless encampments have been found in this area.
—CSPD does not believe the crime rate will be affected by the addition of the road. Although access to the neighborhoods is increased, this does not typically lead to an increase in crime.
—Effective lighting is one of the most important deterrents to criminal behavior and will certainly decrease crime occurrence.
What kind of overhead street lighting will the new road have?
We are considering light guards/shields on the fixtures. The position of the road lower than the natural embankment will also help buffer the lights.
Neighborhood residents have expressed a preference for the type of lights that are installed on the outside edges of the road and shine in toward the street and medians.
What will the height of the overhead streetlights be?
That will be based on City standards through Colorado Springs Utilities.
Is there a need for the City to acquire property or easements for the road and if so, what is the process?
The design of the road was refined to follow the existing topography, and strategically aligns such that it limits impacts to the adjacent floodplain, neighborhoods and property. There are a small number of properties and/or easements required. Negotiations with those property owners have been underway for some time and are progressing.
The City follows the Uniform Relocation Act in which the City conducts an appraisal, the property owner has the option to also conduct its own appraisal (at no cost to the property owner) and then the two are negotiated. Fair compensation is provided for any properties affected by temporary easements, permanent easements or Right-of-Way acquisition.
What will the speed limit be on Centennial Blvd.?
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