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Ordinance proposed to improve wildfire evacuation times

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Posted at 7:22 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 07:36:04-05

COLORAOD SPRINGS — A neighborhood coalition is pushing for the City of Colorado Springs to make a comprehensive evacuation plan.

This comes after a fire evacuation study was presented to the Colorado Springs City Council that projected long evacuation times if a wildfire were to break out.

As the city continues to grow, some residents are raising concerns about the current wildfire evacuation plan.

"I'm standing in front of one of those major chokepoints, and another one in front of me of 30th avenue being modified, they're putting in a roundabout. Roundabouts are by definition slow the traffic down so people could merge in from multiple angles," said Bill Wysong, President of Westside Watch.

"Growth to growth to growth without planning is a problem in my opinion. So during our research when we stumbled upon the 2010 fire evacuation, they call it a travel study, I was very upset because I read my district. My district basically said in a traffic study that the city paid for that Lake Avenue and Cheyenne Boulevard can't handle the traffic to exit people from that district. When I read that I got upset because they continued to do things like the Broadmoor addition and all of these other things with thousands more people that would have to be exited," said Tim Hoiles of the Maverick Observer.

To help prepare the city's preparedness when it comes to evacuations, both men teamed up to create an ordinance.

"By looking at evacuation time, egress, ingress, it all factors in," said Wysong.

The ordinance would require the city to develop adequate points of entry or exit, with possible rezones and developments, that clearance evacuation times be established, and a target evacuation time of one hour must be met when adding new development to a fire-prone, low exit point community.

"A lot of people say we are anti-development, but we are for development that doesn't put the people that already live here in danger," said Hoiles.

"The problem is that there is not a plan in place that's going to effectively allow for the resources that we do have to make that manageable, and if we continue to develop, what do we need to do to make sure our people are safe," said Dave Noblit, a retired Colorado Springs firefighter.

The ordinance is seen as a step in creating a new and improved system.

"You don't just keep changing zoning without understanding the full impact," said Wysong.

Colorado Springs City Council is working to set a date for a special meeting to discuss the proposal and get some of their questions answered.