The first impact of Colorado Springs city budget cuts on neighborhoods was the announcement that community centers would be closing in March.
Then came the forced retirements of land-use inspectors who protect neighborhoods from becoming home to farmyards, slaughterhouses, auto body repair and other illegal activities.
Now assorted road construction projects are being shelved indefinitely, including several designed to to protect residents of neighborhoods from speeding and wrecking cars. The reason? Several traffic engineers were among the 88 early retirements and 93 layoffs announced earlier this month.
Voters are getting what they asked for in November when they rejected funding for city services.
The latest blow to neighborhoods came in this edited version of a news release Tuesday from City Hall:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 29, 2009
Projects Temporarily Suspended
Reductions in City General Fund revenues have resulted in a shortfall for City Engineering’s staff availability to manage the remaining capital projects.
The City Engineering Division will be competitively selecting a private sector consulting firm to manage its PPRTA capital projects.
Due to the time it will take to properly implement this management change, the City is temporarily suspending all City PPRTA Capital work until a program management staff is in place. This does not affect the Woodmen Road project since the majority of that funding is from the federal stimulus program.
The following capital projects are immediately affected:
● South Metro Accessibility (Proby Pkwy.) Phase 1
● Austin Bluffs Corridor Improvements – Nevada Ave. to Academy Blvd. and Barnes Rd. to Old Farm Dr.
● Fillmore/El Paso St. Improvements
● Vincent Drive Bridge at Cottonwood Creek and Vincent Drive Extension
● Hancock Avenue Bridge at Templeton Gap Floodway
● Roadway Safety and Traffic Operations Projects:
- Platte Ave. Corridor – Hancock to Union
- Hwy. 24 @ 21st Street Intersection
- 8th Street @ Arcturus/Ramona Intersection
- Hwy. 24 @ 26th Street Intersection
- Las Vegas @ Royer Intersection and RR Crossing
City staff requests citizens’ patience during this transition period. The City is committed to completing these capital projects but needs time to make this program management adjustment.
The city, in the text I trimmed from the news release, basically blamed the PPRTA board for the delays, citing the board’s refusal to allow Colorado Springs to use RTA funding to pay the $1.2 million in salaries of the engineers, forcing their layoffs.
Here’s a link to the capital improvement projects and where you will find a link to the city’s news release about the projects that will be delayed.
Below is a look at the $55.4 million Proby Parkway project, including an elaborate interchange with Powers Boulevard.
Buried on the list of shelved projects is the relatively cheap Platte Avenue Corridor safety project. It was conceived as a way to stop chronic rear-end wrecks on Platte between Hancock Avenue and Union Boulevard.
Neighbors along that stretch were so upset about their traffic problems they formed a neighborhood association to speak in a united voice to City Hall about the need for changes on Platte.
Here’s a link to my Feb. 5, 2009, column about the neighborhood.