Date slips for new Cimarron bridge

       Once slated for June, completion of the south half of the new Cimarron-Conejos bridge will not occur now any sooner than late summer or early fall.
       There is also a growing chance of an even longer delay, if city negotiations with COSMIX contractor Rockrimmon Constructors continue to falter.
       City Engineer Cam McNair reported on the issue to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board Feb. 14.
       “We were hoping that by now we would have a contract for a full design-build with Rockrimmon Con-structors, but unfortunately we haven't been able to come to terms yet on cost and schedule,” McNair said afterward.
       Should an agreement be reached soon - talks are to resume next week - the time frame will still extend past the June time frame he had given Westsiders at a meeting in mid-November.
       Because the new span will be wider, completion of the south half, when it occurs, will restore four lanes there, based on city/RTA plans. The north side would be replaced immediately thereafter.
       “I feel I was not able to deliver on promises I made, and I don't feel good about that,” he said. He offered no excuses, but when asked for reasons he noted the harsh winter, the demolition difficulties with the railroad (see adjoining story) and the drawn-out negotiations.
       The advantage of using Rockrimmon is that its crews are in the vicinity, working on the Colorado Avenue and Bijou Street bridges and widening the interstate between them. Contracts have already been signed with Rockrimmon, through the Colorado Department of Transportation, to demolish the south half of the Cimarron bridge (which is located just east of I-25) and to design the new bridge up to 30 percent.
       “The city felt this was the most efficient way to get this done,” McNair said. “We were sort of in an emergency situation.”
       If the city had to find another contractor - which is being researched as a “fallback plan” - it would add two months, at least, to the completion estimate, he said.
       This would put the full bridge completion into 2008, he predicted.
       He hasn't given up hope on Rockrimmon. But he is working within a city/RTA-approved $8 million budget that is already well above the $4.8 million that voters OK'd for Cimarron as part of the RTA ballot issue in 2004.
       He said costs are higher because of increases in construction and the urgency of the city situation - the bridge's south side had to be closed for safety reasons last August, reducing traffic to two lanes.
       Ideally, Cimarron would be closed to expedite the demolition work, but because the situation coincidentally occurred at the same time as the Bijou closure and the Colorado Avenue lane restrictions, city officials decided to pay more and continue keeping at least two lanes open.
       McNair's next public update will be a report to City Council Feb. 26. He declined to say if he will recommend the fallback plan then if a deal is not worked out with Rockrimmon, but noted, “We should have a pretty good idea by that time.”

Westside Pioneer article