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Road project upsets Black Forest residents

Published On: Oct 08 2013 07:28:44 PM CDT

Residents say they didn't want improvements at the intersection of Black Forest and Burgess roads.

BLACK FOREST, Colo. -

As if  this summer's wildfire and floods weren't enough to deal with, many Black Forest residents are unhappy about a road project which they say is being forced on them.

More than three years after it was first designed, work to improve the intersection of Black Forest and Burgess roads should be finished by the end of the month, said El Paso County Spokesman Dave Rose.

"Traffic would back up trying to make left turns," he said.  "People would make unsafe turns.  Traffic going straight would take the ditch and attempt to go through.  This will improve safety and ease congestion."

Rose said the project will cost taxpayers $2.2 million.

Residents asked for changes in the original design, said Rose, which stalled construction.  The summer's Black Forest Fire and subsequent flooding delayed completion six months further, he said.

However, several residents said the project was more extensive than it should have been and hurt sales at area businesses.

"I think it's overkill," said Robert Hartford, a resident for 25 years.  "It was fine before.  I never had a problem with it.  Only a few new people from California really pushed it and wanted it."

Susan Wilson, the owner of a nearby bed and breakfast, said money spent on the project could have been better used elsewhere.

"Even our County Commissioner, he's not from the Forest," she said.  "This is taxation without representation.  The people in the county think they know what's better for the people who have lived here.  I've been here 30 years."

Rose disagreed that the project hurt business.

"The opportunities will return," he said.

In separate projects, taxpayers will pay $385,000 for repaving 3 1/2 miles of Black Forest Road.  A widening and repaving of the east end of Hodgen Road will cost taxpayers $16.6 million.  Workers expect to finish that project by the end of November.

Rose said the Hodgen Road project also will make snowplowing easier and safer by smoothing out hills to improve visibility, as well as installing road shoulders and upgrading drainage.

The money for all three projects comes from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's one-cent sales tax approved in 2004 by voters in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Green Mountain Falls and Ramah.

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