Some details known, some not as COSMIX starts at Bijou/ Colorado

       An estimated 80 people turned out for a three-hour open house June 27 on plans by the Colorado Department of Transpor-tation (CDOT) and project contractor Rockrimmon Constructors for the Bijou Street and Colorado Avenue bridges as part of the COSMIX work on I-25.
       One of the main things they learned about the project is that some of the main things are still to be decided. Among these are the route for Bijou's southbound detour ramp while the bridge is closed next year (and, as a ripple effect, whether or not Spruce Street will be closed at Colorado Avenue sooner or later), a design plan for recently required water detention ponds (including a prominent one that will be at the west end of the bridge) and the route of a new trail access going south from Colorado Avenue.
       COSMIX is a $150 million CDOT project to widen I-25 - including a new interchange at Bijou Street and a rebuilt overpass at Colorado Avenue - to three lanes over a 12-mile span.
       Another open house will likely be held in late November this year, when project plans are more firmed up and the key part of the project - removal of the Bijou bridge - will be nearer at hand. “Interest level will be higher then because that work will be imminent,” commented Bob Wilson of CDOT Public Relations.
       One set of details that is mostly firmed up relates to the widening that will start south of Colorado Avenue and continue north about a half-mile to a spot 2,000 feet north of Bijou Street where six lanes already exist. In the Colorado Avenue area, the interstate is elevated, with a sloping wall on its east side above the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail, a 1930s-built rock wall and Monument Creek. For the project, the interstate will be widened to the east, with the slope on the east side replaced by a vertical retaining wall about 30 feet high that will leave the same amount of room for the trail, wall and creek, according to engineers.
       A functional change will be lack of Greenway Trail access from the south side of Colorado Avenue east of the I-25 overpass. People will need to walk under the bridge and somewhere west of it - at a location to be determined - a trail connection will go to the Midland Trail a few hundred yards south.
       On the interstate, for about 150 feet north of Colorado Avenue, the northbound side will be cantilevered out about 8 feet because there is not enough room for a retaining wall there, engineers ex-plained.
       Three southbound off-ramp detour options - intended to help drivers get to the downtown in the absence of the Bijou bridge - were presented for comment. The idea was not to have a popular vote on the options, but to find out from the public if any issues might have been overlooked by the state or the contractor, engineers explained. Two of the options would use the existing ramp, allowing motorists to turn right (west) onto Bijou. They could then take Spruce to Pikes Peak Avenue to Walnut to Colorado Avenue, or take Spruce directly to Colorado. The third option would create a temporary off-ramp south of the bridge onto Pikes Peak Avenue.
       The Spruce Street access would be problematic for two reasons - one, there is a median at Spruce and Colorado Avenue now, preventing left turns toward downtown; and two, Spruce is scheduled for permanent closure at some point to allow construction of the retaining wall.
       Preliminary work in the area - including the demolition of former commercial buildings at the west end of the Bijou bridge - has already begun, with construction planned to get underway in mid-July. The I-25 work this year should not hamper motorists a great degree, but this will change in January, when the Bijou bridge is scheduled to close for nine months while a new interchange is built.
       Unavailable at the open house (held at the Clarion Hotel on West Bijou Street) were drawings of what either of the bridges will look like from ground level. Engineers told citizens they could get an idea if they view the COSMIX work going on at Rockrimmon Boulevard/ Nevada Avenue or the existing interchange at Uintah Street.

Westside Pioneer article