New bridge over Fountain Creek milestone in continuing Cimarron project
Drivers on Cimarron Street are getting their first taste (albeit a small one) of what it will be like when the project at the I-25 interchange is finished.
It's the eastbound portion of the new bridge over Fountain Creek. Eastbound traffic, which for months had swerved in a slight detour around the bridge construction area, was redirected June 4 onto the new, straighter, roughly 500-foot alignment after one last overnight project that tied the pavement into the existing roadway.
In coming months, the new bridge will be expanded, width-wise, to make room for westbound traffic, which is still using an older bridge north of the new one, explained Don Garcia of Wilson and Company, a project consultant to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). “It's like pieces in a puzzle,” he commented.
Other work over the June 3-4 weekend moved northbound traffic lanes slightly to the east between the Tejon and Cimarron interchanges. Garcia described this as preliminary to a temporary move later in June in which southbound vehicles will start using two lanes that are normally on the northbound side.
This “split-lane” configuration (as it's being called) will allow interstate work just to the west of it “for several months to level out lane elevations and prepare for the final alignment of I-25,” a CDOT press release states.
The contractor is Kraemer/TSH. The $113 million interchange replacement project started a year ago and is scheduled for completion in late 2017.
Garcia said that no traffic problems have resulted from last weekend's changes. The now-straighter line on eastbound Cimarron (from the bridge opening described above) seems to be helping its flow, he added.
The June 3-4 work was a milestone among numerous interchange construction activities in the area of Cimarron/I-25 that will be continuing in the coming months.
Highly visible aspects at the interchange include the development of a new interstate bridge, about 75 feet west of the current one (chiefly to handle the southbound lanes), and the final southbound off-ramp (next to the recently opened temporary one), which will include a permanent bridge over Fountain Creek.
In the area southwest of the interchange, on land that CDOT owns over to Eighth Street, a temporary batch plant is providing concrete for new road surfaces in the project zone, and work is getting started to naturalize Fountain Creek east of Eighth Street. The work will include widening the creek with a “low-flow”
An unexpected addition to the project scope - an $800,000 expense that CDOT is absorbing, according to Garcia - involves containment of seepage from a long-forgotten landfill north of the creek. CDOT does not know when the dumping occurred there, but he said it certainly pre-dated the hotel (demolished shortly before the interchange project) that had been built on the site in the 1960s.
Garcia added that the extra work required for the containment is part of the reason why the “shortcut” between Cimarron and the Eighth - intended to provide relief to that intersection - has been delayed until 2017. The road, conceived by the Kraemer/TSH team (which calls it the “quadrant”), will eventually connect to Cimarron west of the interchange and to Eighth Street south of the Acorn station, where a stoplight will line up with the currently difficult access to the Colorado Place shopping center.
Overall, Kraemer has termed the current construction activities “Phase 1.” The work from May 2015 to May of this year was called “Phase 0.” Phase 1 is to continue “through late winter 2016,” the press release states.
The release also provides a month-by-month list (which appears below), identified as “activities to expect in summer 2016.” Exact dates for closures are weather-dependent and not yet determined. (Note: The list has been edited for clarity.)
· A full overnight closure of southbound I-25 between the Tejon and
· Overnight lane restrictions on westbound Highway 24 to switch traffic onto new pavement.
· Lane restrictions on southbound I-25 for paving operations.
· Full overnight closures of Highway 24 at the Cimarron interchange to set I-25 Phase 1 girders.
· Full overnight closures on Cimarron Street between Sierra Madre and Highway 24 to set girders for the widened Cimarron bridge over Fountain Creek.
· Lane restrictions on Highway 24 for shift to permanent lane configuration west of I-25.
· Full overnight closure of I-25 southbound off-ramp for permanent alignment across permanent bridge.
THROUGH THE SUMMER:
· Various overnight lane restrictions and traffic realignments on I-25 and Cimarron Street/US 24 to allow for removals, restriping and paving activities; to set barriers; and for bridge construction.
· Eastbound Cimarron Street between I-25 and Sierra Madre St. will continue to be reduced to one lane.
· Westbound Cimarron Street between I-25 and Sierra Madre St. will continue to be reduced to two lanes.
On the interstate, traffic in the daytime will be maintained at three lanes each direction, according to CDOT. Speeds are limited to 55 mph.
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