Road construction in east Colorado Springs.

This November, El Paso County and Colorado Springs voters will decide at the polls whether to extend a local sales tax that funds regional and multimodal road projects for another 10 years.

Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority, which collects the 1-cent sales tax to share among six regional governments, on Wednesday authorized setting the ballot question and list of priority road projects.

Most of the money goes to El Paso County and Colorado Springs. Fifty-five percent of the generated revenues pay for one-time capital projects, 35% of the funds go toward maintenance projects, and the remaining 10% to transit.

If approved, the 10-year sales tax — which voters first approved in 2004 and extended again in 2014 — will fund major road projects between 2025 and 2034. They include reconstructing North Nevada Avenue; upgrading Marksheffel Road from Woodmen Road to Carefree Circle on the county's eastern edge; connecting Powers Boulevard from Colorado 83 to Voyager Parkway; and upgrades to Woodmen from Powers to U.S. 24.

In Manitou Springs, priority projects include improving Manitou Avenue and roadway reconstruction, mobility enhancements, bridge rehabilitation and intersection improvements across the city's transportation network. 

PPRTA funds also will pay for roadway upgrades and bridgework along Serpentine Drive on Manitou's western side, which city officials said were sorely needed. The roadway snakes in a V-shape from U.S. 24 to Manitou Avenue near the Cave of the Winds Road intersection.

"This is a fairly critical road, insofar as that's our access in and out of town at the west end," Manitou Springs Mayor John Graham said at the July 13 PPRTA board meeting. "It also takes traffic down to Higginbotham Flats, which would be an emergency staging area — it has been for Manitou, and would be for anything that has to go on in lower Ute Pass."

The road is crooked and must be regraded, he said.

Of the Colorado Springs projects, the plan would spend more than $100 million of the estimated $592 million in capital funding that it is projected to raise over the next decade on reconstructing North Nevada Avenue.

Last month, residents questioned why such a large percentage of the city's expected future tax collections was planned for work on a 2-mile portion of the road they said wasn't particularly unsafe or congested.

That project is split into four segments on the list voters will review. All four are described as projects that will improve signalized intersections and provide better transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure to support the North Nevada redevelopment vision.

The Marksheffel expansion is estimated to cost $47 million, and Colorado Springs' portion of the extension of Powers is estimated to cost $72 million. El Paso County also expects to contribute $30.9 million of its projected $301 million in capital funding to the Powers extension.

The Gazette's Mary Shinn contributed to this report.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.