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This time they really mean it – Fillmore/I-25 project starting

       After several construction-start delays in the past year, the ground is due to be broken in late January on the new Fillmore/I-25 interchange.

The Fillmore Street bridge over I-25 is seen from the northbound off-ramp. The new stoplight for Chestnut Street (realigned west from the interchange in a project completed in 2013) is at far left. The new Kum & Go at the northeast corner of Fillmore and Chestnut is the reddish building behind the interchange. According to plans, the Filllmore/I-25 project will demolish the current bridge, built in 1959, and replace it with two bridges about 20 feet apart, using a diverging diamond design in which traffic will cross to opposite sides.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The project could have begun a little sooner, according to Mark Andrew, a resident engineer for Region 2 of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The contractor, SEMA Construction, hired last fall, “was just waiting for the holidays,” he said in a recent interview.
       Andrews predicted the work would last 14 to 16 months, with completion by the summer of 2016.
       The project will replace the existing interchange, built in 1959 when I-25 was extended through Colorado Springs. Also, the two ramps on the north side will be extended. The south-side ramps were upgraded as part of the 2005-2007 COSMIX project that expanded I-25 to three lanes through most of Colorado Springs.
       The new interchange will look different, with Fillmore traffic traveling across two bridges with 20 feet between them. Each will be narrower than the current single bridge. The layout is related to the diverging diamond design (DDI), in which traffic will cross to opposite sides at either end of the interchange. Engineers have pointed to studies showing that DDIs have safer turning movements and fewer through-traffic delays.
       The initial construction impact on motorists should be minimal, according to Shane Ferguson, CDOT's project engineer. “Likely, what we'll see is work south of the existing bridge,” he said, where the contractor will start by drilling pier foundations for the new south span. “We do not expect to see a lot of traffic disruption on Fillmore right away.”
       CDOT has previously pledged to keep Fillmore open over the interstate throughout the project.
       As for I-25, there could be speed-reduction zones at times, but Ferguson foresees no through-lane losses during the project.
       Although a final schedule is still being developed, he said the expected order of activity will be to build the south bridge, then to demolish the north half of the existing structure. That will make room for construction of the new north bridge. After that, the rest of the old bridge will be torn down.
       Unlike the Cimarron/I-25 interchange - now tentatively scheduled to break ground in October - the Fillmore work gives the contractor a complete design, Ferguson pointed out. This includes a tie-in with the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority's 2013 project that realigned Chestnut Street away from the Fillmore interchange.
       At Cimarron, because its construction issues are seen as less predictable, CDOT will give more flexibility to the contractor (not yet hired) during the project.
       SEMA, the Fillmore contractor, has handled numerous interstate projects in Colorado. The Denver-area company also was co-contractor on COSMIX.
       Fillmore is starting nearly a year later, and with a price about $2 million higher, than CDOT had predicted in late 2013. Based on interviews with state officials in 2014 - during which the start date was put back several times- the issues were increasing costs, a few design changes and a new state road funding program that needed several months longer than expected to become operational.

Westside Pioneer article