Chance of traffic clogs during first month of Cimarron bridge project
Lane limitations at Bijou, Colorado Ave. bridges

       Ready or not, there goes the Cimarron bridge.
       Because of delays in the COSMIX work at Colorado Avenue and the Bijou bridge, drivers won't have as many alternate east-west lanes as predicted with the closure of the 49-year-old Cimarron span Oct. 31.
       The limitation could cause traffic backups - particularly on Colorado Avenue, which is one of the detour routes as a result of the Cimarron bridge closure but which has been reduced to one lane each way under I-25 until at least Thanksgiving.
       The Bijou bridge issue will be partly solved by opening three lanes eastbound (one or two lanes westbound) during the morning rush hour (6 to 9 a.m.) and reversing that from 3 to 6 p.m. At other times, there should be two lanes each way, but this could vary, depending on work needs.
       “It's not ideal, but we can't wait any longer,” said city spokesperson Mary Scott. “We don't want to push the completion date back any further.”
       She was referring to the new Cimarron bridge, which is gauged for a May 15 opening based on a Nov. 1 start date. The city goal is to have it done before tourist season. At one point, April had been hoped for.
       The detour remedies were being brainstormed up until about mid-day Oct. 31 by engineers from the city, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and COSMIX contractor Rockrimmon Constructors. Before this week (as reported in the Oct. 25 Westside Pioneer), everything had appeared to be on schedule.
       City Council had approved Nov. 1 in early October after hearing predictions from CDOT that the normally four-lane avenue underpass and six-lane Bijou bridge at I- 25 would be fully operational by then.
       “Our crews are working as quickly as they can,” said COSMIX spokesperson Michele Majeune Oct. 31. “But we're sort of heading into the homestretch here, and we want to get it right.”
       A main delay at Bijou resulted from the wrong size architectural railings being delivered. The correct railings are being installed now, and after that the city will install the bridge lighting, Majeune said.
       At Colorado Avenue, current work includes major drainage improvements and street milling and overlay, she said.
       Dave Krauth of City Traffic Engineering said he did not think traffic would be backed up too badly, but in case of such problems, he advised motorists to “be patient and allow a few additional minutes to get to your destination. We understand it is inconvenient, but it is only temporary (the Bijou and Colorado Avenue constraints) and shouldn't last through the month. We tried and tried to plan ahead, but some things are outside our control.”
       Normally a four-lane major arterial, Cimarron was reduced to two lanes and vehicles 10,000 pounds or less when part of its southside bridge deck failed over a year ago. That side of the bridge was torn down last spring. Traffic was directed to the north side after that.
       Colorado Avenue had been two lanes eastbound, one lane westbound during most of the Bijou bridge replacement project from January to Oct. 1.
       The Cimarron replacement, including the southside demolition, is budgeted at $8.57 million, with funding from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. The contractor is Lawrence Construction.
       The COSMIX project, due for completion in late December, is finishing a CDOT effort, started in the 1990s, to widen the interstate through the main part of the city to three lanes each way.
       In upcoming COSMIX work... I-25 southbound at the Bijou bridge will close overnight Thursday, Nov. 1, Sunday, Nov. 4, and Monday, Nov. 5 (if necessary) for traffic realignment and striping, and to prepare to shift traffic onto the new I-25 southbound bridge over Colorado Avenue.
       “Motorists should pay attention to VMS boards on I-25 for possible changes and updates,” a COSMIX press release states. “During this closure, I-25 southbound traffic will be detoured onto the Bijou Bridge to make a left turn (east) on Bijou to Nevada Avenue. A right turn on Nevada (south) from Bijou will guide motorists onto southbound or northbound I-25 at the Nevada/Tejon interchange.”

Westside Pioneer article