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CDOT: New Cimarron interchange to be ready by July 2017

       The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has begun narrowing down a schedule and design priorities for construction of the new Cimarron/I-25 interchange.

TOP: The basic design for the Cimarron/I-25 interchange that is scheduled for construction between 2015 and 2017, with a budget of $95 million.
BOTTOM: The “ultimate” interchange, including features to be added at an unspecified future date, including an Eighth Street interchange and flyover.
Courtesy of Colorado Department of Transportation

       According to information presented Dec. 11 by CDOT Region 2 Resident Engineer Dave Watt, construction will start sometime in the winter of 2014-15, with the new structure ready for motorists by July 1, 2017.
       Also, based on preliminary discussions CDOT has been holding with “stakeholders” (influential groups and individuals in the community), four “project goals” have been determined, including “an aesthetically pleasing design” that Watt pledged will underscore the interchange as a “gateway to the mountains.”
       He presented his information at a meeting of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) Board of Directors, which consists of elected officials from a three-county region including El Paso.
       No vote was required; the board had made the interchange its top priority early this year, successfully seeking dollars through a competitive CDOT funding process. As part of the effort, officials from Colorado Springs and El Paso County even pledged local funds to help attain the state project's $95 million funding target.
       The project will not just replace the interchange, it will reduce the interstate's curve about a half-mile south of Cimarron, moving some of the roadway 25 feet to the west. “We see a lot better curve, with better alignment and safety,” Watt said. “It will function a lot better than it does today.”
       The northern limit of the project will be the Colorado Avenue overpass, which was replaced in the COSMIX project of 2005-07.
       Some design concepts for Cimarron/I-25 have shown a flyover ramp for westbound highway drivers to get on the interstate going north. Watt pointed out that the project will not include that feature, but will build the interchange in a way that would “accommodate” the flyover in the future.
       All the ramps will be changed, with a layout underneath the interchange similar to the one at Garden of the Gods and I-25.
       As stated previously, the project will be accomplished under a “design/build” format, in which only about 20 percent of the design is hard and fast, which gives the contractor flexibility to make decisions based on findings in the field. The same approach was used for the COSMIX project.
       CDOT's project schedule shows that it began preparing design/build documents this fall, leading up to an eventual contractor selection in the winter of 2014-15.
       The four project goals, in order of priority, are to:
       “Maximize safety, capacity and operation of the transportation network within the project budget.
       “Complete project construction to be fully operational before July 1, 2017.
       “Minimize impacts inconvenience to the community, motorists, businesses, downtown and the public during construction.
       “Achieve an aesthetically pleasing design compatible with current and future amenities and enhancements in and around the interchange.”
       In conjunction with the recent widening north of Woodmen Road and the new Fillmore/I-25 interchange (construction to start in early 2014), the Cimarron work as planned will finish the job of upgrading the interstate's interchanges/overpasses and providing six lanes all the way through Colorado Springs.

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