Nothing’s been easy for 8th Street traffic project
An Eighth Street traffic project that took nearly four years to get started had finally reached its defining day - when a 120-foot-long pedestrian bridge was to go in over Fountain Creek - and wouldn't you know, the unit's delivery from Greeley (in two 60-foot halves) took three hours longer than expected. So the installation Oct. 5 got pushed into the night.
And then it started to rain.
Among those watching the scene unfold in the eerie illumination of arc lights was Colleen Dawson, the city engineer who's been managing the project. Looking out beneath her rain-spattered white hardhat, she grinned philosophically, “If it wasn't Murphy's Law, it wouldn't be this project.”
Part of the reason the installation took so long Oct. 5 was the work involved in bolting together the two bridge halves, as they lay positioned end to end with the help of cranes in the coned-off northbound Eighth Street traffic lane. The engineer had another quip for that: “Imagine assembling a really big bicycle on Christmas Eve.”
At least “Murphy” couldn't override engineering care. The concrete abutments on either side of the creek, poured weeks earlier, had been designed with a two-inch length tolerance for the steel-framed bridge being constructed in Greeley. When the two large cranes lifted the 40,000-pound structure onto the abutments that rainy Oct. 5 night, that tolerance was not an issue.
The Eighth Street job was one of the first Dawson took on in 2005, less than a year after she started with the city, and it could be one of her last - she's on the list to be laid off if the city-proposed property-tax increase (Question 2C) fails in November.
In previous Westside Pioneer interviews, she has explained that the project took so long to start mainly because of the issues involved in combining two originally separate Eighth Street traffic improvements between the creek and Highway 24. One of them used local tax revenues from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and the other one federal funding from the Hazard Elimination and Intersection Safety program). The plans also required technical reviews from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
The finish line is in sight, however. With the pedestrian bridge now bolted onto its abutments a few feet east of and parallel to the Eighth Street traffic bridge, all that remains is paving in the extended northbound right-turn-only lane, then pouring concrete for the new sidewalk, according to Jason Korth, project manager for the contractor, CMS Inc.
When ready for use, these amenities should please people in that area. Before, with no sidewalk on the east side of Eighth between the creek and the highway, people had to walk in the street past the Express Inn and up to the gas station. Meanwhile, northbound vehicles in Eighth Street's right-turn-only lane routinely backed up into a through lane when traffic was heavy on Highway 24. At 400 feet, the new right-turn lane is more than twice as long as before.
There remains only the ultimate question on the “Murphy's Law” project: When will it be done? After getting under way last summer, the schedule was im-pacted by weather, concrete and other issues that have already pushed the expected completion date back from the originally anticipated end of September.
Asked for a new date this week, Korth predicted the work will take two to three weeks longer, depending on the weather.
Cross your fingers, everyone.
Westside Pioneer article