Project underway improve link between Old Colorado City, Manitou Springs

Project to improve link Old Colorado...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A link between Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs once known as “no man’s land” is being revitalized through the Westside Avenue Action Plan.

City leaders gathered Monday for the groundbreaking ceremony.

"It's just been a matter of funding, a matter of bringing all the parties to the table. Here we are today, really 12 years later since the discussion first started in 2004," said El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark.

The project is intended to improve mobility and safety of the 1.5-mile section of West Colorado and Manitou avenues between North 31st Street and the U.S. Highway 24 interchange.

"This part in between has been known as forgotten no mans land for a reason. So it's very exciting for a business owner who's been here a long time to see these improvements underway," said Cindy Hooton, owner-operator of Timber Lodge.

The timber lodge is one of 200 properties along West Colorado Avenue that will be affected.

"My husband and I purchased this property in 1988. We've seen the way people vacation and want to enjoy our area has changed. Before, it was get in the car go. Now people are really into walking, biking and hiking," Hooton said.

The goal of the project is to improve mobility and safety. Crews want to add sidewalks, better lighting, bike lanes and more. Work also includes redesigning the area where Fountain Creek flows under a bridge to allow for better runoff.

Biking is what drives business at Buffalo Lodge, just off Colorado Avenue.

"We cater to all tourists, but we specifically want to have amenities and attractions that appeal to bicycle tourists. At our property you can ride your bike in the room and hang it on the wall," said Torie Giffin, the owner of Buffalo Lodge.

Improving access to trails in the area is another goal of the project which Giffin said is crucial.

"I think this going to be huge for the community I think the communities that have better pedestrian and bike access are more attractive to tourists and residents."

The $30 million project is mostly funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's sales tax revenue, with about $1 million from the Manitou Springs Urban Renewal Authority.

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