Frequently asked questions

This page provides answers to the most common questions that we get asked.  

 

About the South Powers Extension Study

What is this study about?

El Paso County, in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation, has initiated a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study and Access Control Plan (ACP) for the extension of South Powers Boulevard.

 

Since 1963, Powers Boulevard was planned as a by-pass alternative for Interstate 25 (I-25) along the eastern edge of the City of Colorado Springs. As one of the State of Colorado's 28 strategic corridors and a key element of the National Highway System, Powers Boulevard is a critical corridor supporting local, regional, and national mobility. It is a critical component of the Region's Congestion Management Plan, provides access to five major military installations, shall be the major north/south thoroughfare for the rapidly developing eastern edge of the City of Colorado Springs, and provides direct access to the City of Colorado Springs Airport and its surrounding business park. 

 

While it is anticipated that South Powers Boulevard may begin as a locally- owned road, it is expected that the Colorado Department of Transportation will eventually maintain it as a state highway. Close coordination will be required among the Cities of Fountain and Colorado Springs, El Paso County and CDOT.

 

Regional partners (El Paso County/Fountain/Colorado Springs/CDOT/Federal Highway Administration/Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments) are working together on the PEL and ACP to identify potential future transportation and multimodal improvements along a recommended alignment that will provide predictability for planned and future development.

What will be the result of the South Powers Boulevard Extension PEL/ACP?

The Vision for the South Powers Boulevard Extension is to develop a resilient facility that improves safety, connectivity, and reliability and provides a redundant route to I-25. The proposed corridor aspires to provide connectivity for all modes of transportation with an emphasis on implementing green infrastructure practices. Powers Boulevard is planned to be a four to six-lane facility, approximately 36 miles in length, with its northern and southern terminus connecting with I-25. It is planned as an access-controlled facility, with interchanges no closer than one mile apart. Ultimately, the facility is intended to be a grade-separated freeway. This project focuses on Powers South from Mesa Ridge Parkway (CO 16) to I-25 utilizing the preferred alternative location from the South Powers Boulevard Feasibility Study of July 2000.

 

El Paso County is working in collaboration with stakeholders to identify a range of short and long-term improvements to identify projects that will improve corridor safety, maintain regional connectivity, improve functional integrity, and address current and future transportation needs along the corridor. The ACP will assist local agencies in making local land-use decisions and preserve ROW for future growth and development.

Where is this project located?

Powers Boulevard is located south of Colorado Springs in El Paso County.  It is approximately 36 miles in length, with its northern terminus connecting to Mesa Ridge Parkway (CO 16) and southern terminus connecting with I-25 (between the existing interchange locations of Pikes Peak International Raceway and the unnamed interchange located north of MP 123). 

What is the Project Schedule?

This is an approximately 18-month study that kicked off in January 2022. Two public meetings are planned to take place in spring and fall 2022 with the final study completed in summer 2023.

What planning efforts have already occurred for this corridor? Will this Study incorporate previous planning studies?

The study will build upon previous planning documents to identify a list of South Powers Boulevard Extension corridor alternatives and determine a recommended alignment. It will support El Paso County, local agencies, stakeholders, and the public by identifying potential future intersection and interchange opportunities.

 

Other regional plans that include reference to South Powers Boulevard include: 

  • 1970: Pikes Peak Regional Land Use Plan, adopted by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, El Paso County, and the City of Colorado Springs.  

  • 1971: General alignment is shown in the update of the Colorado Springs’ Regional Major Thoroughfare Plan.  

  • 1987: The South Powers Blvd. was depicted on EPC’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan and remains on it today.  

  • 1993: Federal, State, and local planning processes include recommendation of Powers Boulevard as part of the National Highway Systems designation. The National Highway System Map includes Powers Boulevard.  

  • 1993: Powers Boulevard, including the southern alignment, were also identified as part of the Federal Strategic Highway Access Network (STRAHNET) that provides critical access to and among military installations. The Pikes Peak Region is home to five military commands/installations. 

  • 2000: The South Powers Boulevard Feasibility Study identified a preferred alignment for the southernmost segment of the Powers Boulevard/CO 21 corridor with ultimate direct connection to I-25. 

  • 2007: on Fountain’s Traffic Master Plan. 

  • 2016: El Paso County Major Transportation Corridors Plan (Corridor Preservation Plan) 

  • 2022: Fountain Transportation Master Plan 

  • 2022: Colorado Springs ConnectCOS – Amended to add South Powers Extension alignment outside the current boundaries of the City of Colorado Springs.  

What roles do the following agencies have in the study?

  • El Paso County

  • City of Colorado Springs

  • City oF Fountain 

  • Colorado Department of Transportation 

  • Federal Highway Administration

Regional partners (El Paso County/Fountain/Colorado Springs/CDOT/FHWA/PPACG) are working together to assure coordination across agencies, each of these agencies have representatives serving on the Executive Oversight Team, Technical Team, and/or Project Management Team. Each agency is encouraged to provide input based on their local plans and community preferences to recognize land uses and development proposed along the corridor.

How is the Project Team coordinating with the Colorado Department of Transportation?

CDOT is working closely with El Paso County and other agencies involved in the study. CDOT representatives are serving on the Executive Oversight Team, Technical Team, and Project Management Team.

Why has it taken so long to move this project forward?

The timeframe for any project to move forward is often a combination of the right time/need to construct based on current and projected growth, coupled with other transportation priorities and available funding. Powers Boulevard is a critical corridor supporting local, regional, and national mobility. Since 1963, it was planned as a by-pass alternative for I-25 along the eastern edge of the City of Colorado Springs. Cooperative planning for Powers Boulevard was formalized in the early 1980’s through an Intergovernmental Agreement between El Paso County and the cities of Colorado Springs and Fountain.

 

Several other plans have been developed since. In 2000, a Feasibility Study determined the appropriate corridor plan and alignment for the extension of Powers Boulevard south from Fontaine Boulevard to a connection with I-25. In 2022, the Colorado Springs comprehensive transportation master plan, called ConnectCOS, was amended to add the South Powers Extension alignment outside the current boundaries of the City of Colorado Springs and it was also included in the City of Fountain Transportation Master Plan at that time. The missions of our Pikes Peak area military installations have increased over the years, and with that, population and employment in southeast Colorado Springs and around the City of Fountain has also grown. Although construction of the project has not yet been scheduled, the need to preserve right-of-way for a future extension south of Mesa Ridge Parkway is necessary.

What is the budget for the study phase and how is it funded?

The budget for this study is $1,000,000 with funding through Multi-Modal Opportunity Funding and CDOT Regional Project Priority Funds.

 

PEL Process

What is a PEL study?

The Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study is the first step toward identifying and seeking support for immediate and longer-term solutions for this vital new roadway. It is a long-range planning study that will rank and prioritize these solutions based on the needs of the corridor.

 

Most importantly, the PEL is a tool for El Paso County to study the corridor, plan for the future, and identify potential funding and partnering opportunities. Completion of the PEL will best position El Paso County and local agencies to accelerate projects and rely on the early design concepts and environmental analyses needed to advance construction.

 

Read more information about CDOT’s Planning and Environmental Linkages Program online here

What are the benefits of a PEL study?

El Paso County and local agencies are committed to implementing improvements to the transportation resources in the area and developing a South Powers Extension; however, the nature, timing and funding of projects is unknown. Therefore, the PEL is the best tool at this time to lay the groundwork for future improvements by:

 

  • Developing an understanding of the study area’s safety and mobility concerns

  • Identifying, defining and prioritizing projects based on the proposed corridor's greatest needs

  • Identifying environmental constraints that may influence design options and/or delay project development with lengthy environmental reviews

  • Clarifying project costs and identifying financing and funding options to implement improvements

  • Providing a framework for El Paso County to engage with local corridor communities, regional travelers, and other interested stakeholders to understand their concerns and ideas for immediate and long-term improvements

  • Supporting an efficient transition to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), final design and construction advertisement once funding is identified.

 

Conducting a thorough and inclusive analysis of the study area deficiencies, safety and operational issues, potential environmental impacts, and costs and funding options through the PEL process will save time in the long run when projects are selected and approved to move forward. The recommended solutions must alleviate transportation problems, reflect community needs and values, and have support. Obtaining support on the best path forward from the public, local agencies, and elected officials is a central PEL objective.

 

Access Control Plan (ACP)

What is Access?

Any intersection or driveway along a roadway is called an access point. At access points there is a potential for a conflict to occur between the different modes of transportation (vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle). Vehicles turning into and out of access points can cause other vehicles to slow down when their travel paths overlap (conflict) with other vehicles at the access point, resulting in delay and congestion.

What does an ACP do?

  • Determines what access points will be allowed

  • Establishes where accesses will be located

  • Determines what kind of traffic movements will be allowed at each access

  • Identifies alternative access routes and circulation as necessary

  • Ensures each abutting property has reasonable access

  • Is a long-range vision for the corridor

What are the benefits of an ACP?

  • Reduces conflict points where a crash may occur. This is applicable not only for vehicles, but also for pedestrians and bicycles having to cross multiple driveways on the corridor.

  • Creates fewer locations for vehicles to brake or turn onto or off the highway resulting in more efficient travel for through traffic.

  • Makes the corridor more visually appealing to drivers and visitors by reducing the number of driveways

  • Improves safety and efficiency for all modes of transportation

  • Ensures access points are constructed in accordance with state highway safety standards

What is the Process for an ACP?

  1. Develop Draft ACP based on PEL recommendations, input from local agencies, and CDOT

  2. Present Draft ACP to public at Open House

  3. Revise ACP Recommendations based on public input and final PEL recommendations

  4. Accept the final plan

  5. Specify how elements of the plan can be changed in the future, if necessary

  6. Prepare, sign, and adopt an Intergovernmental Agreement between El Paso County, City of Fountain, City of Colorado Springs, and CDOT

  7. Report outcomes to the Colorado Department of Transportation Commission and get approval from the CDOT Chief Engineer so the plan becomes law

  8. Continuing coordination between CDOT and the local agencies to ensure proper implementation of the plan in the future
     

What do I need to know about ACPs?

Changes denoted in the ACP will not occur unless new land use development happens that increases traffic generated by the development by more than 10%. The ACP stays the same until some new development or activity happens that increases traffic by 10%. Even if changes happen that increase traffic by 10% and access is changed, access points can only be closed if another access is provided. Implementation of the South Powers Extension Access Control Plan will occur in phases or incrementally over time-based on:

  • The development and redevelopment process

  • Available funding

  • Traffic needs

  • Safety needs

 

There are no planned projects or identified funding that would change existing access at this time.

What are the benefits of combining the PEL and ACP study processes?

 
 

Public Engagement

What are the opportunities for public and agency participation?

There are several ways to participate! We understand that any proposed solution to the region’s transportation needs must address issues and concerns from many stakeholders. Our process includes continuous outreach to engage community members throughout the study.

 

Engagement opportunities include:

  • Sign up to receive notices of public meetings and study updates by sending an email requesting to be added to the distribution list to: SouthPowersStudy@gmail.com

  • Staying up to date by visiting our website: www.SouthPowersStudy.com

  • Providing input directly onto the project Interactive Comment Map: Submitting a comment or question on the Comment Form

  • Submitting a comment or question through our project email

  • Interacting with project team members at virtual or in-person community meetings at key project milestones in spring and fall 2022;

  • Collaborating with representatives from the City of Fountain, City of Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, Federal Highway Administration, Colorado Department of Transportation, and El Paso County, who sit on the project’s Executive Oversight Team