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Who knew? Near-simultaneous starts for Fillmore, Cimarron interchanges

       After decades of advocacy from regional officials for new I-25 interchanges at Cimarron and Fillmore streets, who could have foreseen that after separate processes, with changing priorities and complexities in each one's design and funding, the two Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) projects would break ground scarcely two months apart?

ABOVE: In a view east across the current Fillmore/I-25 bridge and the start of its southbound onramp (right), early signs of construction are evident. BELOW: A view west from the Cimarron/I-25 interchange shows where the curving southbound offramp now intersects the south side of Cimarron at a stoplight. As part of the interchange project, that offramp will be replaced with a modern configuration, coming straight down to the north side of Cimarron.

Westside Pioneer photos

       That scheduling quirk appears a certainty, with work having started on Fillmore in early February and - with the recent selection of a contracting team - the likelihood that Cimarron will get under way at least by April.
       Cimarron, the bigger of the two projects at $116.1 million, is scheduled now to last until Dec. 1, 2017. CDOT has predicted completion of the $15.1 million Fillmore job by summer 2016.
       The full impact of having simultaneous interchange replacements about three miles apart is not yet known, although Don Garcia, a CDOT project manager, said in an interview he doesn't think the roadway conflict will be as bad as it sounds. “We'll just have to have the contractors coordinate with each other, so they both can't have closures at the same time. We have a specification that they have to coordinate.”
       At Fillmore, CDOT has pledged to keep the bridge open throughout, but a public meeting last summer on Cimarron showed support for closing the street at the interchange for up to four months at some point during the project, in order to expedite the overall progress. Temporary freeway lane closures during both projects appear unavoidable and are already happening at Fillmore.
       Below are updates on both projects.
       Fillmore
       Overnight lane closures are continuing on Fillmore Street as well as on the interstate (median barrier placement); also, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is at times closing the shoulders on the ramps and I-25 during daytime hours on weekdays. A recent CDOT press release states that such activities will continue through June.
       “Later this year,” according to a CDOT press release, the contractor, SEMA Construction Co., plans to close I-25 completely at night “to demolish the old bridge in phases.”
       A CDOT-provided “public information hotline” for the Fillmore project is 719-367-4884.
       Cimarron
       In late February, CDOT announced its contractor team - Kraemer North America (Kraemer) and Tsiouvaras Simmons Holderness (TSH). Working out final documents should take until about the end of March, according to Wilson, after which CDOT will give the contractor what's legally termed a “notice to proceed,” meaning work can commence.
       A CDOT press release states that project construction “will begin west of I-25, with utility relocation and bridge and embankment work. The intent is to complete as much work as possible prior to significantly impacting traffic along I-25 in early 2016.”
       In conjunction with the selection announcement, CDOT revealed a new, anticipated completion date of Dec. 1, 2017. A year ago, the state agency had set a tentative date of July 2017. However, construction costs have gone up an average of 20 percent in the past year, and those “funding issues are what caused it to become Dec. 1,” CDOT spokesperson Bob Wilson said in an interview.
       Kraemer is headquartered in Plain, Wisconsin, and has “more than 100 years of highway and bridge construction experience,” the press release states. Its Colorado regional office is in Castle Rock. The company has done several state projects in Colorado, with local projects including the Powers Boulevard design/ build project, Woodmen Road widening and the Woodmen/Academy interchange project.
       TSH is a Colorado-based engineering design firm founded in 2005. It too has been a contractor on several projects around the state, including Powers Boulevard.

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