Colorado Springs, CO, launched a new transportation master plan, ConnectCOS. It comes from significant safety and sustainability concerns related to its 20-year-old previous policy. ConnectCOS aims to have a living, breathing, adaptable roadmap focused on increasing infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.
It also aims to improve public and non-motorized transportation options for underserved communities over the next two decades. The hope is to meet residents’ needs adequately, make the transportation network cleaner and more sustainable, and reduce the number of traffic-related deaths and injuries.
The plan is partially informed by the responses to a 2021 community survey that asked residents about their priorities and perspectives on improving the city’s transportation system. Survey responses indicated that safety is the priority, especially with roadway crossings and intersections. The emphasis on safety was not surprising when the city faced its deadliest accident year in 2020.
Another significant survey finding is that residents would rather travel within the city than use Interstate 25 to move around, indicating that local road transportation access for various neighborhoods is essential. More than 800 residents responded to the survey, with many sharing concerns about intersection layouts and the city’s walkability.
Using all survey responses, ConnectCOS developed six focus points: sustainability, efficiency, reliability, accessibility, connection, and safety. To date, the city has already identified nearly 30 local corridors for safety and accessibility improvements.
Since the survey also indicated a strong community desire for more sustainable spaces, the plan includes stipulations for more tree cover and green space and enhanced public transportation, providing increased access to hospitals, grocery stores, and schools. The ConnectCOS project team also incorporated the 2018 Bike Master Plan, which created priority bike corridors across the area.
Though the roadmap is about transportation, ConnectCOS has numerous systemic advantages, including improving food security and the cost and quality of life for everyone in Colorado Springs. Though the city has been on the U.S. News and World Report “Best Places to Live” list, it’s also one of the most expensive, with a lack of affordable housing. ConnectCOS addresses that issue by decreasing the financial burden for groceries and making it easier to use public and non-motorized transportation.
“Sometimes these things take a decade or more to all come together and get built,” said Steve Posey, Colorado Springs’ city community development manager. “It’s one of those things where we need more time and people to support a system like [ConnectCOS]. But what we’re doing for housing and transportation is important for the city. This is going to help a lot of people.”
From planting trees and making bike paths safer to making public transportation more readily accessible and affordable, ConnectCOS is a vital part of Colorado Springs’ sustainable future. It creates a healthier, happier environment for all residents and visitors and allows for adjustments and reassessments along the way.