Bijou bridge opens to positive reviews

       In the first week of the new Bijou bridge, traffic has mostly been flowing smoothly, according to reports.
       Both Kyle Troxel of COSMIX contractor Rockrimmon Constructors and Kathie Haire of Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering said they have been hearing positive comments since the span opened Oct. 1, restoring that I-25 interchange after nine months of detours.
       The condition of limited lanes will continue up to Oct. 31 while COSMIX crews finish decorative work on the bridge. Three lanes are provided during rush hour - two of them eastbound in the morning and two westbound in the evening - and one each way the rest of the time.
       Mike Morrissey, who owns Drive In Liquors near the bridge, said he was pleased that the bridge is open, even if only in a limited way. Throughout the project, he and other Near Westside merchants around Spruce and Bijou streets have said their business fell off noticeably because of losing the direct access to the downtown. In the first couple of days since the bridge opened, “there hasn't been a huge rush, but it's been a little steadier,” he said. He expects even more improvement when Spruce Street is restored to two ways.
       That changeover will happen within about a week, according to Kathie Haire of Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering. “We wanted to allow traffic to reorient itself to the new bridge,” she explained. “We didn't want to throw it all at drivers in one day.”
       The street has been one-way southbound since about July 1, to ease the detour for motorists during the project.
       Other changes resulting from the bridge opening are the Mountain Metro Transit stop moving back to the southeast corner of Spruce and Bijou (on Bijou), where it had been before. Also, by contract, the shuttle bus between Spruce/Bijou and downtown has been discontinued. According to Morrissey, people have told him they can walk across the new bridge twice as fast as it took for the shuttle to go the same distance.
       At a press conference marking the bridge opening Oct. 1, the speakers included Mayor Lionel Rivera, County Commissioner Sallie Clark and Regional Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Director Tim Harris.
       Clark lauded the multi-entity collaboration, including the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), to develop a plan that moves east-west traffic “in a beneficial way.” She noted afterward that OWN is also working with CDOT on a sign facing westbound Bijou traffic, just west of the bridge, that will tell people they're heading into the city's Westside.

Westside Pioneer article