CDOT replants Bijou off I-25

       It's unknown if anyone lied, but over 100 public plantings died along Bijou Street west of I-25 over the past couple of years.

ABOVE: Bijou’s plaza area by the Clarion Hotel and I-25, which was replanted this summer.
BELOW: The original plantings there, all of which died (note the change in tree types).
Westside Pioneer photos

       The happy ending (at least for taxpayers) is that new plantings are going in, under a warranty with the private contractor who did the work.
       The landscaping was created along Bijou between I-25 and Spruce Street in 2007 as a part of “companion” improvements (costs shared by local governments with the state) in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT)'s COSMIX project that replaced the Bijou bridge and widened the interstate between 2005 and 2007.
       The plantings will be the same as before, except around the small plaza by the Clarion Hotel and the southbound off-ramp, explained Jeff Haley of City Parks. The changes there are in the trees behind and below the plaza. Six Austrian pines had been there initially, but Haley said the thinking is that maybe they got overwhelmed by the water draining off the brick area, so deciduous trees that can handle excess water better have been planted in their place.
       Elsewhere, the problem may have been too little water, rather than not enough. Although the plan had called for the city and county to take over maintenance at some point after the plantings went in (using an underground drip-irrigation system that was installed in the companion project), somehow the handoff never occurred.
       “We were not able to determine why so much of the plant material died,” CDOT engineer Dave Poling said.
       “Nobody knows if the irrigation got turned on, or if the weather was too hot,” El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark said. But now that the governing bodies are getting a second chance, “we're going to do a more diligent job.”
       According to Haley, about 75 or 80 shrubs and 40 perennial flowers are being replaced on both sides of Bijou, mostly near the southbound on/off-ramps. The city's irrigation responsibility is on the street's north side, the county's on the south. The estimated value of the work, all covered by the warranty, is “in the neighborhood of $10,000,” he said.
       The contractor's replanting started a few weeks ago.

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