As you may be aware, the City of Colorado Springs would like to utilize TIF (or tax increment financing) to pay for a freeway connection on the northern side of Colorado Springs. The TIF dollars (from 2.5 Million square feet of retail including an enclosed shopping mall and lifestyle center) will be used exclusively for the roadway improvements. The proposal is for nearly $200 million dollars over the span of 25 years.
Prior to making the statements that I am going to make, let me state that I respect Mr. Erickson and the work that he has done and is proposing. I do not blame him for attempting to get the Powers Extension financed through Urban Renewal. If I were in his shoes, and would have thought I had a shot in the dark and getting it through, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing. Let me also state that the opinions in this blog are my own opinions and this is by no means a reflection of the other CSURA board members. These are opinions that I have stated in a public forum at prior CSURA board meetings.
In the coming days (Friday, Monday & Tuesday), I will write three blog posts (including this one) on the following topics:
Powers Boulevard: Is It Necessary and What are the Options?
Part 1: Powers Boulevard: Is The Extension Necessary and What are the Options?
Many argue that the extension of Powers Boulevard (the freeway proposed to be funded by TIF) is a necessary element for growth in Colorado Springs. Personally, I have not come to that conclusion due to its location in town and the eminent sprawl and growth to the outlying communities that it supports (Monument and El Paso County have to love this proposal). Regardless of my opinions about Powers, there are other alternatives to accomplish the same goal of “rapid” vehicular transportation out-of-town without using TIF.
Option 1 – CDOT: The simplest of ways to finance Powers Boulevard as planned is to wait until CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) feels it is warranted and let them build it. CDOT is currently obligated to fund the extension of Powers at some point in time. When the ARRA money was divvied up this past year, the Powers Extension was not a high enough priority. As Mr. Fred Veitch of Norwood so eloquently stated at Planning Commission, “Why should we let CDOT off the hook to pay for this road?” Exactly correct Mr. Veitch, why should we use TIF on a Greenfield to pay for a road that someone else is already going to pay for? Typically, the developer is on the hook for paying for a portion of the infrastructure necessary to serve their project. This also gives Mr. Erickson a pass on his infrastructure responsibilities.
Option 2 – The Toll Road: Discussion about Powers Boulevard being a toll road precede the time that I have lived in Colorado Springs. This was the initial plan as I understand it for Powers Boulevard. So whatever happened to this being on the table? Toll roads have solved the financing problem for many other cities, why not Colorado Springs? The answer I have heard from this is “we don’t want to do that.” I do not feel that this is an acceptable response. As a member of the CSURA (Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority) and a citizen of Colorado Springs, I don’t feel that it is responsible of our City to be on the hook for this project with so many uncertainties.
Option 3 – Interquest Parkway: Why not just utilize the infrastructure that we already have, after all, we are not saving a great amount of miles traveled? We do not need to create additional roadway to accomplish what we are after. We have Interquest Parkway that currently acts as the connection to Powers Boulevard, let’s continue to use it. If need be, enhance Interquest Parkway at the intersection of Powers and Highway 83 so Interquest continues on to Powers in a fluid manner (i.e. use the two properties, of which the City already owns one of them, at the intersection to cut the corner and tee in highway 83 at a T-Intersection). We have two planned and entitled major retail districts at the intersection of Interquest and I-25 (Colorado Crossing and Interquest Marketplace), maybe this would give them the boost that they need.
The Copper Ridge Urban Renewal Plan is scheduled to be heard by City Council on Tuesday, May 11 at Colorado Springs City Hall.