I-25: RTA Fillmore work to anticipate interchange

       The Colorado Depart-ment of Transportation (CDOT) can't say how soon the necessary $40 million might become available to fund the approved construction of the new Fillmore Street/I-25 interchange, CDOT Resident Engineer James Flohr told a meeting of the Mesa Springs Community Association this month.
       In the meantime, he said the state intends to coordinate with the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) when the RTA starts on its estimated $4.8 million project - scheduled to start in 2007 - to widen and upgrade Fillmore between Centennial Boulevard and I-25.
       This joint-planning intent was underlined after the meeting by Craig Blewitt, the Colorado Springs transportation planning manager who helps oversee RTA projects within the city. Although observing that such a situation “rarely works out perfectly, “ he said that close communication with CDOT will be necessary “to design the widening as smart as we can” so it will work with the existing configuration and, when the interchange is eventually replaced, “there's as little throwaway as possible.”
       The new interchange's design was part of the 2004 federally approved Environmental Assessment (EA) for I-25 work in Colorado Springs. However, because of insufficient state and federal funding, COSMIX did not include the Fillmore (nor the Cimarron) interchange. Flohr said an EA needs to be updated every five years, and this will be done (to ensure the plan is in keeping with any updated standards) if by 2009 no funding has yet been found for Fillmore. He said this updating process could go on indefinitely.
       When the Fillmore interchange is built, the traffic flow will be “similar to Garden of the Gods Road,” except that it will be on the bridge deck instead of under it, Flohr said.
       To help ease the load, the design calls for Chestnut Street to be re-routed to the west, so it crosses Fillmore about a block uphill from the interchange.
       The RTA project will widen Fillmore to six lanes between Centennial and I-25, with the intent of eliminating congestion and making it easier for vehicles to get on and off the steep Fillmore hill.
       Regarding the interstate work, COSMIX project manager Dave Poling of CDOT said at a City Council meeting this week that a portion of the widening this year that will continue the three lanes each way north from the current Fillmore interchange will be “temporary.” The widening in the area of the old interchange will have to be redone when the new interchange is eventually built because the old one allows six lanes but not the eight in the new design. The partial redo was deemed necessary because of the urgent need to put in six lanes now, he explained.

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