Cimarron bridge stays at 2 lanes while engineers mull problems

       In the coming weeks, area officials will be determining the fate of the problematic Cimarron Street bridge just east of I-25.
       The item is on the agenda of a meeting of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) board Wednesday, Sept. 13, and engineers with the City of Colorado Springs are studying the matter.
       Since a large hole in the decking on the south side of the city-owned bridge temporarily forced its closure Aug. 9, a city-contracted structural inspection has determined the north side is safe for vehicles up to 10 tons in weight, according to city spokesperson John Leavitt. Two-way traffic is crossing the bridge currently on the north side only.
       “Permanent repairs to the south half of the bridge and/or total bridge replacement options are being evaluated by the city,” Leavitt said. “Options include concrete deck repairs, bridge deck replacement or full bridge replacement. The city will consider needed repairs, costs, funding options, and impacts to the traveling public.”
       County Commissioner/ Westside leader Sallie Clark said that she and other RTA board members - elected officials representing the city, county, Manitou Springs and Green Mountain Falls - will be reviewing engineering studies to help them decide whether to move the bridge's $5 million replacement further up on the priority list of RTA projects.
       The 48-year-old bridge, which had major structural work done on it two years ago, spans Conejos Street and the railroad tracks. In her inspection Aug. 9, Clark said she found “many areas where rebar is exposed and one area in particular where the concrete has eroded onto the railroad tracks below, leaving a hole above.”
       As a lower-priority “A-list” RTA item, the bridge is due for replacement sometime between 2010 and 2014. Last year, Clark had lobbied unsuccessfully to move the bridge up on the list because of its importance for connecting the downtown with the Westside and I-25. But she was overruled by city and RTA officials, based on engineers' assurances that the recent structural repair would keep it sound for another 10 years and because money could be saved by incorporating the job into a state Cimarron/I-25 interchange project (as yet unfunded and unscheduled).
       The RTA pays for its projects through a voter-approved 1-cent sales tax that took effect in 2005.
       Adding to the mix is the planned replacement of the Bijou Street/I-25 bridge between January and October of next year, during which the Bijou bridge will be closed, Clark noted. The result is likely to be more east-west traffic using Cimarron and Colorado Avenue.
       She encouraged local residents to attend the Sept. 13 RTA meeting, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments Lower Level Conference Room, 15 S. 7th St.

Westside Pioneer article