City of Colorado Springs / Transit Service / Transit Links / Academy Boulevard Corridor Great Streets / Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: July 30, 2010

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The Academy Boulevard Corridor Great Streets Plan encompasses a variety of City of Colorado Springs planning efforts and programs addressing revitalization of the six-mile segment of Academy Boulevard between Maizeland and Drennan Roads.  Ongoing planning efforts include the Academy Boulevard Corridor Multimodal Transportation and Transit Readiness Plan and accompanying Land Use Vision Plan. 

These FAQ's and responses are intended to address some of the most common questions that have come up during the process.  Additional questions and responses will be added as the process goes forward.  For more detail on these overall planning efforts and programs please refer to the project web site at www.AcademyBlvdGreatStreets.com or contact City staff at 719-385-5391.

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Q:  Why the name "Great Streets" Plan?
A:  The overall Academy Boulevard Corridor revitalization effort involves many facets, including planning, processes, programs and projects. The Great Streets name and concept encompasses many of these efforts and related values.  These include, but are not limited to, promoting a multimodal approach consistent with the City's "complete streets" policy, addressing the relationship between land use and transportation, supporting the corridor's businesses including retail enhancement, and supporting the  neighborhoods associated with the corridor.

Q:  How does this study relate to land use?
A:  City staff will work with area stakeholders to draft a Land Use Vision Plan, which will be developed concurrently with the consultant-led process to develop the Multimodal Transportation and Transit Readiness Plan. The expectation is that both of these documents will be mutually supportive. Future land use assumptions are also necessary to model the future demand for traffic of different modes (cars, trucks, transit riders, etc.). These modeling results can inform us as to whether the current and potential future transportation systems will be adequate to carry the traffic. Finally, the design of the transportation system will affect the location, density, mix and orientation of future land uses.

Q:  Why are we doing a transit-oriented plan now when Mountain Metropolitan Transit has cut back substantially on bus routes and service hours?
A:  This is a long-range plan that will look at future options. Now (before future decisions and investments need to be made for Academy Boulevard) is a good time to develop an informed understanding of the options. Plans and priorities can then be established to better guide allocation of scarce public and private resources. This study is 80% funded by a Federal Transit Administration capital grant and 20% matched with local in-kind staff services.   This grant can only be used for such planning studies and is not available to be used to pay for bus and related transit operations.   Planning conducted now will help guide how transit service along this important corridor can be improved when the local economy recovers and when future possible more stable transit funding sources become available.  Information from this plan will also be helpful in establishing priorities in a separate study being conducted by Mountain Metropolitan Transit that is looking into the potential for establishing a more regionally-focused transit board.  More information on this separate important process can be obtained from Mountain Metropolitan Transit at transitinfo@springsgov.com

Q:  How is this study being paid for?
A:  Most of the cost of the Academy Boulevard Corridor Great Streets consultant contract is being funded through a Federal Transit Administration planning grant. This category of grant cannot be used for construction or operations and maintenance. The City is providing a match primarily in the form of in-kind staff hours dedicated to this planning effort.

Q:  Will this be all about transit and transit-oriented development?
A:  The study and plan will address all modes of transportation, including private motorized vehicles along with bicycle and pedestrian trips.

Q:  When will this be completed and what will the outcomes be?
A:  A project schedule can be found at http://www.springsgov.com/Page.aspx?NavID=3088.  Currently, it is expected that this phase of the process will be completed by the end of 2010 or shortly thereafter.  Plan adoption, implementation and further steps would take place after that.

Expected results include:

  • Land Use Vision Plan
  • Recommended functional classification for the roadway
  • Access management guidance
  • Recommended corridor profiles and cross sections
  • Transit element (including a screening and evaluation of alternatives)
  • Recommended next steps

Q:  Why are we focusing on just a six-mile segment of Academy?
A:  This particular segment of Academy Boulevard was designated by City Council as a "mature/redevelopment" corridor in 2007 based on higher commercial vacancies, among other factors. It is, therefore, the primary focus of attention. However, City staff understands that Academy Boulevard extends to the north and south, and many of the recommendations derived from this study will be applicable to the larger corridor.

Q:  What is happening with the with the Proby Parkway project and how does it relate to this project?
A:  Construction of the Proby Parkway/Academy Boulevard grade separated is currently underway at the southern boundary of the planning area. This Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority- funded project will be under active construction until approximately the end of 2011. Additional information can be obtained at www.buildproby.com  or www.probyparkwaydesign.com

Q:  What are some of the options for the Colorado Springs Utilities substations and electric lines?
A:  Although the two large electrical substations within the corridor are considered fixed conditions, there are several options for addressing the overhead electric lines which generally parallel Academy. In most cases, these lines are located within an approximately 100-foot wide easement on private property. As a general rule, transportation uses, parking and low-profile landscaping are allowed, but not buildings or trees.  Options include:

  • Additional landscaping in the easements (leaving the towers in place)
  • Burying the lines in the current easement
  • Moving the easement so it is located in parking lots behind buildings
  • Burying and relocating the lines within the Academy Boulevard right-of-way in conjunction with reconstructing the roadway

All but the first option would be expensive. However, each provides the potential for substantial corridor enhancements and economic benefits to property owners. These options will be further evaluated as part of the planning process.

Q:  How can I get involved?
A:

  • Actively participate by providing your ideas and suggestions
  • Represent your community/neighborhood
  • Help identify potential assets and opportunities for the corridor
  • Spread the word about the study and get others involved through the website

Q:  Do we have a transportation project planned, and if so where would the money come from?
A:  This is a planning study only, although it is expected to result in recommended or proposed physical projects of some kind.   For any physical project to proceed, additional study and design would need to be completed, and funding would need to be secured. Currently, no substantial additional funding is programmed for new projects in the corridor.  Future funding options might include a project included in a reauthorization of the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA) after 2014, allocations of State and federal funding associated with the next regional Long Range Transportation Plan, federal grants associated with transit and sustainability, tax increment financing (TIF) from new development in the area, business improvement and related districts, and direct private investment.

Q:  Will the City be closing accesses as a result of this plan?
A:  It is not possible to predict with certainty what the access-related recommendations of the study will be, nor can we predict what future access-related projects the City may be involved in at some point in the future, particularly in response to site-specific safety considerations.  However, the stated intent of this planning process is to recommend access guidance as compared with an access management plan.  Recommendations will likely include options for increased access in some areas and potentially reduced alternative and/or reconfigured access in other segments.  At this point the expectation is where existing accesses are involved; any recommended changes would likely be triggered either as a result of privately initiated redevelopment plans or possibly in association with a larger project to replace the existing roadway cross section.

Q:  What other plans and roadways are we looking at?
A:  The City and the consultant are looking at a variety of plans and examples across the country and in Colorado.  Examples include the North Watt Avenue Corridor Plan in the Sacramento, CA area, and the West Colfax Avenue Action Plan in Lakewood Colorado.  We are also evaluating Colorado Boulevard in Denver for comparisons and characteristics that might be transferable to this project.  Finally, staff and the consultant are consulting a variety of studies and literature including an EPA publication entitled "Restructuring the Commercial Strip," a copy of which is available on this web site.

Q:  Which transit options will be we evaluating?
A:  The intent of this project to is to evaluate the full spectrum of transit options ranging from smaller possible enhancements to existing fixed route bus service or through potentially larger projects such as a future light rail or streetcar.  All options will be screened based on factors including how they match up with physical characteristics of the corridor along with existing and potential future demand for service.  The most viable remaining options will then be evaluated further.  The focus will be on options which have been successfully implemented in other areas of the Country with similar characteristics.

Q: "Will this project result in the displacement of low or middle income residents and/or businesses because they can no longer afford to remain in the area?"
A: This question refers to "gentrification" which is the process of purchase and/or renovation of properties which results in the displacement of lower and middle income residents and/or businesses.  It is improbable that wholesale gentrification could occur in a planning area with more than 60,000 residents.   The answer to the question is, no; there is no intent to displace low or middle income residents and/or businesses.  In fact, the opposite is true.  The expectation of this plan and process is to first and foremost support and stabilize existing neighborhoods and business areas, and then to promote further development, redevelopment and investments in the area, which will serve the needs of a full range of demographic and income groups.

Q: What is this plan going to do about concerns for public safety?
A:  This plan and process recognize the fundamental importance of addressing concerns with crime and the perception of crime as key supporting conditions necessary to successfully implement transportation and land use plans.  Although many of the strategies necessary to address crime fall outside the scope of this study, a key criteria for the evaluation of land use and transportation alternatives needs to be whether  the alternative will reduce crime and improve public safety.

Q: Will this plan result in the kinds of businesses I desire being more conveniently located for me?
A:  Ultimately, the decision to locate a business (such as a general-purpose grocery store or sit-down restaurant) at any given location is a market choice that will be made by the private sector.  These decisions are fundamentally made in response to the market conditions in an area.  However, the decision is also affected  by factors such as site access, availability of transit, cost of land and utilities, available incentives, safety and security concerns, zoning options, and the anticipation of future development. This planning effort has the ability to significantly affect these secondary factors.

Q: What transit options will the study process look at?
A:  Our intent is to evaluate a full spectrum of transit alternatives ranging from the existing levels of fixed route service up through the potential for options such as light rail.  Options will be screened based on agreed-upon criteria which will include, but not be limited to, physical conditions within the roadway corridor, land use and traffic modeling and a variety of other factors such as cost, flexibility, potential for funding, support of neighborhoods, and economic development potential, etc.

For more information:
Call:  719-385-5391
Visit:  www.AcademyBlvdGreatStreets.com
Sign up to receive electronic newsletters by sending a request to: info@AcademyBlvdGreatStreets.com