6 lanes finally open all the way through town
Completion of Colorado Avenue bridge widening allows COSMIX to eliminate I-25 Bijou-to-Cimarron bottleneck
Six lanes of traffic all the way through Colorado Springs.
An I-25 goal that started taking shape in the 1990s was completed with the COSMIX project this week, when the last traffic cones and barriers were removed in the pre-dawn hours Dec. 19 between the Bijou and Cimarron interchanges.
“This is a major milestone,” said COSMIX spokesperson Michele Majeune. “Drivers have an expanded roadway and better mobility.” Also, she pointed out, they can go faster. After months of 45 mph and construction-zone signs, the speed limit past the interchanges and overpasses that serve the Westside is 55 again.
Before the $150 million COSMIX project started in 2005, the interstate north of Nevada Avenue had been four lanes since its original construction in the late '50s. Four lanes have been provided at peak hours through most of the project, but often in narrow configurations with reduced driving speeds and constrained on/off- ramps.
“We've been very understanding of the frustration of drivers,” Majeune said. “It has been a tight, tough area, but there wasn't any choice. There was only so much footprint to work with.”
The final link that allowed the last two lanes to open was the completion of the widened Colorado Avenue overpass, she said. After that, thanks to cooperative weather, crews working through the night opened the third lane on the southbound side the morning of Dec. 18, then followed suit on the northbound side Dec. 19.
The work also included final alignments of on-ramps and off-ramps. One that Majeune was especially glad to see was the northbound on-ramp at Cimarron. The original on-ramp had required motorists wanting to continue north to merge first into the lane that terminated at the nearby Bijou bridge and then into a through lane. During the project, because of tight space, the acceleration lane was shortened considerably and motorists had to merge straight into a through lane. Now, in the new configuration, she pointed out, the acceleration lane becomes a new lane, in which drivers can stay and get off at the Bijou off-ramp, or take their time and merge into through traffic.
The COSMIX project has expanded 12 miles of I-25 in all, from Cimarron north to Academy Boulevard (although a replacement for the old Cimarron interchange remains unfunded). The interstate through the city south of Cimarron had been expanded to six lanes during a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) project in the '90s.
Some COSMIX work still remains. This week, crews were laying in sidewalk under the Colorado Avenue bridge, finishing up ornamental work on the Bijou bridge and addressing details at the Rockrimmon-Mark Dabling interchange farther north. Also, Majeune said, some shoulder and erosion-control work is still needed along the new parts of the interstate, which could shut down a northbound or southbound lane in off-peak hours at times.
The long-announced final completion date for COSMIX is the end of the year, but that isn't 100 percent certain. “We're going to try to wrap it up by Dec. 31, but there may still be warranty work [problems that CDOT inspectors identify],” Majeune said.
Westside Pioneer article