In less than four weeks voters will head to the polls to determine whether or not they want to extend the sales and use tax to fund the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority capital program.
Question 5A asks voters in El Paso County to approve the extension of the one percent tax to improve roads and bridges. PPRTA has a list of road improvements in the county, some which would be joint projects with the city of Colorado Springs.
The question as it is stated in the ballot reads, `Shall the existing 0.55 percent (fifty-five one hundredths of one penny per dollar) Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's sales and use tax, which sunsets on Dec. 31, 2014 be extended to sunset Dec. 31, 2024 for the purpose of funding regional transportation capital improvements (100 percent of net revenue) as specified in the voter-approved list of specific regional transportation projects as hereby amended and listed as follows.'
Arguments for the tax say that without the extension it is unclear where funding for future transportation needs would come from. Arguments against it state that the tax does not fund new roadway construction which is needed to alleviate congestion in the county. Those who argue against it say that existing RTA maintenance funds should be used for these road and bridge projects.
Some of the projects on PPRTA's list are located in the Tri-Lakes area and two of the projects are of concern to parents of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 students.
If voters approve 5A the county will make improvements to approximately two miles of Monument Hill Road between County Line Road and Woodmoor Drive. They will also make improvements to Base Camp and Deer Creek Road and Emigrant Trail which are in close proximity to Monument Hill Road and Woodmoor Drive.
In his presentation to the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners on May 1, county engineer Andre Brackin said that Deer Creek and Base Camp Roads and Emigrant Trail are falling apart and are in complete disrepair. The roads will need to be torn up and re-done. They also need shoulders, have drainage and intersection issues and need new signage and striping. There is about .6 miles of road that needs improvements.
Monument Hill Road has a lot of intersection problems and Brackin said it gets particularly busy at drop off and pick up times at Palmer Ridge High School.
“It's just not set up well to accommodate that school,” Brackin said during the May 1 meeting.
In addition to traffic issues the road gets extremely icy, there are site distance issues and there have been numerous accidents including two fatalities. Improvements also would include four-foot paved shoulders for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Monument Hill Road was maintained by the Colorado Department of Transportation but is in the process of being transferred to the county.
Parents voice concerns
The road is a safety concern to the PRHS parent community. Vicki Sullivan, a parent of a student at PRHS and one at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, supports the tax extension and she hopes that people will vote in favor of it.
“I know a lot of people are anti-tax on general principle but I think with 5A we finally have a way to pay for some much needed safety improvements and I'm hoping people will carefully consider what's at stake when they go to vote,” Sullivan said. “If they don't get passed I don't know how the improvements are going to get made.”
Sullivan said the improvements would be a benefit to students, parents and all the citizens.
The county has not said when the improvements would be made if 5A should pass and D-38 has not taken a position for or against 5A.
Other road improvements include Beacon Lite Road, Colo. 105 extending from Colo. 83 to Interstate 25 and roads in Black Forest.