Westside to get input chance on new I-25 bridges at Bijou Street, Colorado Avenue
CDOT engineer slated for presentation at OWN meeting Feb. 23

       With design work over halfway done on the new Bijou Street and Colorado Avenue bridges for I-25, engineer Dave Poling of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is scheduled to give an update for Westsiders Thursday, Feb. 23.
       He will be speaking at a board meeting of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN). The public meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the West Intergenerational Center, 25 N. 20th St., with Poling's presentation expected around 7:30.
       Part of the I-25 project known as COSMIX, bridges at both streets are scheduled for replacement, with work to start this summer and be done by September 2007. The Bijou interchange will be closed for that purpose starting next January, while the work on Colorado Avenue's north and south bridges will require occasional lane reductions but no closures on either the interstate overhead or the street below, according to COSMIX plans.
       County Commissioner/ Westside leader Sallie Clark helped set up the OWN presentation - largely out of a concern that Westsiders have not had adequate say in the appearance of the bridges at key entryways into this part of town. A recent City Council/County Commissioners meeting revealed to her that for the past several months CDOT has been meeting with the Downtown Partnership (a downtown merchants group) on various aesthetic aspects of the Bijou bridge.
       “You can't just think that only the eastside cares,” Clark said. “The Westside cares too. The Downtown Partnership should have input, but so should OWN.”
       Discussion with the downtowners have included their requests that Bijou have historic-looking lights like those on Colorado Avenue just east of I-25, stonework like that at the entry to Monument Valley Park just east of the bridge, and a pedestrian overpass to the park, according to George Hayward, a spokesperson for COSMIX.
       No final decisions have been made, he said; it's still uncertain how the added costs for the suggested amenities would be covered. Hayward also noted that “the Downtown Partnership approached us (CDOT),” not the other way around.
       OWN members had asked for design input at a meeting with a CDOT representative last summer, but neither side ever followed up, based on Westside Pioneer interviews.
       Basically set at this point are the structural designs for the bridges, according to James Flohr, a CDOT engineer assigned to COSMIX. “They will look a lot like the Uintah and Fontanero bridges,” he said in a recent interview.
       The goal for “visually pleasing” bridges and interchanges, consistent in appearance, stemmed from “a number of comments” CDOT had received during previous I-25 work in Colorado Springs, he said.
       The design features include sloped exterior girders, a trapezoidal look, upgraded colors and “no vast expanses of concrete,” Flohr said.
       There will be one key difference between such previous bridges and the Bijou/Colorado spans. As described in the 2004 Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project, these bridges are along a roughly one-mile stretch in which the interstate will be cantilevered toward its east side. This will provide the width for two additional traffic lanes while preserving two features just east of the interstate at that point - the 1930s-era Work Progress Administration (WPA) rock wall along Monument Creek, and the creek itself, Flohr said.
       The earliest major work is anticipated at Colorado Avenue, with the tentative start date set in late May. Some utility and other work is to commence on Bijou around mid-summer, but the most visible efforts will not occur until the old bridge is closed in January, Hayward said.
       The Midland Trail, which goes under I-25 a few hundred feet south of the Colorado Avenue bridges, will remain open throughout the project, he added.
       The Bijou work will result in driving enhancements on the bridge and to its on/off ramps. There will be no functional change at Colorado Avenue. The street will continue to go under I-25 as a four-lane road without interstate access.
       The Colorado Avenue bridges job was a late addition to the COSMIX project, whose $150 million in funding represented less than half the scope of work that had been defined in the EA. (For instance, the Cimarron interchange at I-25 was in the EA, but had to be left out of COSMIX.) Colorado Avenue got in because Rockrimmon Constructors - the eventual contractor selection - pledged in its project bid that it could do that task as well.

Westside Pioneer article