Heimlicher: Do Cimarron bridge all at one time

       The latest proposal for the Cimarron bridge over Conejos Street and the railroad tracks is to shut it down completely after the new Bijou Street and Colorado Avenue bridges open, then build a whole new span over the winter.
       According to City Engineer Cam McNair, the result would be a project that is half a million dollars cheaper than the currently anticipated $8 million and a month and a half speedier than the old plan in which the bridge would stay open with two lanes while one side got replaced, then the other.
       But city officials don't want to implement such a plan without getting a feel from local residents and business people. City Council member Jerry Heimlicher, who raised the do-it-all-at-one-time idea at the Aug. 13 council meeting, said he hopes that news reports about it will prompt feedback from citizens. “I'd like to do a survey and see if this is feasible,” he said.
       Other council members also offered no objection to looking into the idea. “It's well worth asking,” Mayor Lionel Rivera said.
       To contact Heimlicher, call 649-3226.
       The Bijou and Colorado work, part of the I-25-widening COSMIX project, is slated to be done in early October. This would restore four lanes (in place of the current zero) at Bijou and four (in place of the currently sporadic three) at Colorado. Assuming a contractor can be lined up in time, the Cimarron work would start as soon after that as possible.
       While any shutdown would still hinder traffic flow or commerce on either side of the interstate, the anticipated October-to-March construction time frame for the Cimarron bridge would at least not occur during tourist season, he noted.
       McNair also voiced a safety concern with the old one-side-first plan, warning council that another harsh winter could cause driving-surface problems with the side of the bridge that does stay open. He rejected, however, any possibility of an outright bridge collapse.
       The current Cimarron-Conejos bridge was part of the original I-25 project in 1958. It was reduced to two lanes and moved up on the city's and Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's priority list when a huge hole appeared in the south half's bridge deck last August. Drivers are now using only the north side of the bridge, and no vehicles over 10,000 pounds are allowed.

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