Copper Ridge: Powers project a race against the clock

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The extension of Power Boulevard is expected to cost $81 million.

The extension of Power Boulevard is expected to cost $81 million.

Now that the Colorado Springs City Council has signed off the Copper Ridge retail project, it faces a 2018 deadline to finish the Powers Boulevard extension. After that, the issue will become far more complicated.

That’s because when the city annexed the land for the Flying Horse community, the developer agreed to provide the state the right-of-way for Powers — as long as the road is built before 2018.

And if it isn’t, the Colorado Department of Transportation will then have to pay for that right of way from Classic Cos., the developer of Flying Horse.

“CDOT wouldn’t lose the right of way, they would just lose it for free,” said Craig Casper, transportation planner for the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

But if left up to CDOT, the road probably wouldn’t be built until sometime after 2035, because the extension doesn’t rank high on the state’s priority list, he said.

“There flat isn’t enough money for everything,” Casper said. “And our long-range plan shows no congestion in that area because there are too many other roads to use to get around.”

The City Council doesn’t see it the same way, which is why the Copper Ridge offer was so tantalizing. The developers will finance the last three and a half miles, bringing Powers to I-25 and completing the 30-mile roadway. So far, the Springs’ newest freeway has 31 stoplights.

Work could begin as soon as the money comes in. Environmental assessments on the four-lane project are already complete, grading plans are finished. Both grading and utility work are ready to begin and the interchange plans are ready to be designed. The final cost of finishing the last leg is $81 million.

But if the retail project can’t find tenants and no bonds are sold, the Powers extension will fall back onto the list for CDOT and the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

And, again, if that were to happen, it is almost certain that no state money will be available to extend Powers until after 2035.

Gary Erickson, developer of Copper Ridge, is confident.

He estimates the extension could start as early as 2013, two years before his deadline to have a major anchor signed for his project or lose the urban renewal money.