Major Transportation improvements looming



by Rick Langenberg:

The drive between Teller County and parts of Colorado Springs could get easier and more road improvement funds may be headed to the region.

Last week, Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen, who serves on the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, provided a dose of good news on the regional transportation front. He told his peers and the media that the Cimmarron I-25 Interchange project, slated for $95 million in funding, has received the green light, with construction scheduled to start in the near future. This project could greatly enhance the ability for people to get between Colorado Springs and Teller County, with vast improvements for a key intersection off U.S. Hwy 24 that has caused many headaches and delays over the years. This effort could spearhead other related enhancement for Hwy 24 on the west side of Colorado Springs, making travel much easier and more direct between the Springs and Teller. This project has always received much support, but questions always arose regarding funding availability.

According to Steen, that funding is now a done deal. 
Plus, he said the area will receive more dollars in state transportation monies, which in the past have been going to Denver. For example, he said a pot of $530,000 for extra road enhancements in 2014 will be increased to $4 million in 2015.
“That is a major increase,” said Steen. “It is a good direction.”
With these transportation developments, the commissioner believes the area could see an increase in tourists and visitors, with an easier trek between Colorado Springs and Teller. 
And once again, the commissioners are stressing their desire to stand up for the rights of rural counties. Commissioner Marc Dettenrieder last week made a pitch for a legislative plan to provide each county with its own state House representative. He cited problems associated with fair representation for Teller, which has never had a state legislator that solely represents the county. Teller is usually lumped together with other counties, like Douglas, that don’t share the same concerns. 

Although he doesn’t believe this effort will succeed this year, he emphasized the importance of conveying this message. He said a recent meeting on this issue attracted a large number of county commissioners from rural counties.