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Delay in construction project will impact Manitou Springs businesses, owner says

Posted at 10:23 PM, Dec 17, 2018

MANITOU SPRINGS –  There’s now a major delay and more money needed for a construction project in Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs.

The goal was to have the Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) done by the end of this year. According to El Paso County staff the completion date has now been pushed to June 2019.

The project, which began in early 2017, has already put a huge dent in revenue for some businesses along West Colorado and Manitou avenues.

Accessing these places has been difficult because of construction and some business owners believe the extra six months of work is only going to make things worse.

“It’s disappointing. It’s very disappointing,” said Judy Ellias Ochs. She’s the owner of Metal Mama’s along Manitou Avenue. She opened up shop about three years ago.

“The first summer I was here I did extremely well because the tourists were able to get in and out, and now they aren’t.”

She said it’s all because of a major construction project happening just outside her doors. The goal of WAAP is to improve safety and transportation in the area.

“It will be beautiful when it’s done.”

However, knowing it will be another six months before traffic improves Ellias Ochs said, “It’ll prevent people from coming here and for me to be making as much money as I hoped to.”

A staff member with El Paso County said that when work began the construction team knew that the time frame and money would likely need to be amended at some point. Unforeseen things like last summer’s flooding, the unearthing of about 1,000 tires along the creek bank, and large boulders that had to be removed have all helped push the timeline back.

As far as money goes for this project, News 5 learned that the original estimate of $31 million came when the entire project plan had not yet been completed. The team knew that estimate would need to be amended. The budget was increased to $35 million in Spring 2018 and recently another $5.5 million was approved to go toward the project.