Cimarron bridge to open with 3 lanes

       Three out of four ain't bad? Beneath a vista of Pikes Peak, Cimarron bridge workers tidy
up recently laid rebar this week, while standing on conduits
for electrical and fiber lines that will run beneath the bridge’s sidewalk. 
Westside Pioneer photo
       The new Cimarron bridge is expected to open as promised May 15 - though one lane short.
       Crews with project contractor Lawrence Construc-tion will keep working through the summer, with Aug. 25 the final-completion date. At that time, the bridge will open its fourth lane, along with bike lanes, turn lanes, raised medians, sidewalks and historic design touches matching those on the Bijou bridge, according to Rob Kidder of City Engineering.
       From May 15 to Aug. 25, the traffic flow will be two lanes eastbound (into downtown) during morning rush hour, then it will "flip" - by workers moving traffic cones and barrels - to two lanes westbound in the evening, he said. Depending on construction needs, there also will be times when traffic will "neck down" to just one lane each way, he said.
       The original project goal had been to provide all four lanes as early as possible. In the plan City Engineering explained to City Council last fall, the bridge was to open with four lanes May 15, with the other amenities to be added through August.
       But a "rough winter" slowed the project, especially the use of concrete (which is temperature-sensitive), Kidder explained. Two concrete "approach slabs" on either side of the bridge deck remained unpoured this week and are not expected to be ready for use until mid-June. (A temporary asphalt surface will be used until then.)
       "But even when the approach slab work is done, they still have a lot to do," he noted, pointing out that many work areas are right next to traffic lanes. "We talked to the contractor and decided that for the safety of workers, we should keep one of the lanes closed."
       The actual goal for the opening is the night of May 14. A small celebratory gathering at 5 p.m. near the bridge (location not announced at press time) was being planned. But any ribbon-cutting is contingent on the bridge concrete passing tests to show it has "cured" properly beforehand. If not, the opening will slip for as long as it takes. However, "we feel pretty good about" the scheduled date, Kidder said.
       The bridge goes over Conejos Street and the railroad tracks a few hundred feet east of I-25. It developed structural problems several years ago and had been reduced to one lane each way in August 2006. Last fall, City Council decided to go with a plan to shut the bridge down completely, so as to streamline its replacement.
       Schedule issues cropped up from the outset. Work started two weeks later than planned (closure was Nov. 1) because of delays in the full opening of the Bijou bridge in the separately contracted COSMIX I-25 expansion project.
       There's been no lack of effort by the contractor, according to Mike Gillen of Nolte Construction, a consultant to the city on the project. For the past four to five weeks, crews have been working 14-hour days, six days a week. "Even when it's snowing, they try to work," he said.
       Carrie McCausland of City Public Communica-tions praised the city's drivers, who have been using Colorado Avenue as a detour between the Westside and downtown since November. "They have been very patient," she said.
       And, even if the bridge is not quite all that had been hoped for at this point, she urged drivers to look on the bright side. "It's not going to be done, it's not going to be very pretty, but it will be a surface," she said.
       The bridge size will be 287 feet, 6 inches long and 100 feet, 6 inches wide, according to City Engineering figures.
       The $8.57 million project is funded through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) one-cent sales tax.

Westside Pioneer article