CDOT busy securing COSMIX right of way

       While the Colorado Department of Transpor-tation (CDOT) works with recently contracted Rockrimmon Construc-tors to finalize I-25 widening plans, a quieter branch of CDOT is making sure no inhabited buildings will be in the way when work starts this year.
       “We're in the middle of the acquisition process,” Alan Prudic, regional right of way manager for CDOT, told the Westside Pioneer. “The appraisals have been completed, and negotiations are underway.”
       The Bijou interchange is expected to start getting prep work this summer, with construction tentatively slated to start in 2006. To clear room for that project, Prudic said he has made offers on all but one of eight commercial properties west of I-25 that need to be purchased outright or in part.
       After the state makes an offer to buy a property , its owner has 90 days to move, although this can be extended based on the circumstances.
       The state is “shooting for a May, June, July time frame” to have such buildings vacated, Prudic added, but “there's no flexibility after that because our contract says those properties have to be available by that time.”
       The project's Environ-mental Assessment (EA), approved by the federal government last summer, identified which properties needed to be bought. However, only part of the work defined in the EA is currently funded. This is the $150 million “COSMIX” project, which will include the Bijou interchange and six lanes through the heart of Colorado Springs.
       COSMIX is expected to last until 2008. The EA also calls for new interchanges at Fillmore and Cimarron streets. These are to be built in a future phase, when funding becomes available, according to CDOT.
       In all, 20 properties are needed - all or in part - at those interchanges.
       Fifteen of the properties are commercial. In contrast to the mid-1990s, when CDOT bought up 200 houses, only 5 are needed this time. These are all in a row in the 2900 block of Chestnut Street just south of Fillmore Street.
       Prudic has started the purchase process for the houses. He said this was to keep the owners from feeling as if they were “in limbo” while waiting for the inevitable construction to come.
       The goal with the houses is to relocate them, not demolish them. “We need to inspect those properties, look for asbestos and other materials, then we have the option of putting them up for public bid,” Prudic said. “People can bid to buy them and move them off site. If there is kind of a mess with asbestos or other environmental issues, then we demolish them. But our preference is to reestablish them around the city.”
       In the mid-90s, 150 of the 200 houses were relocated. “They wound up everywhere,” Prudic said. “Some even went to Walsenburg or Wylie.”
       This process is intended to go quickly. “We've got to try to step forward with our property management efforts so they're not sitting there and getting vandalized - as quick as we can get to it,” he said.
       Any buildings that are not relocated will be demolished, Prudic said.
       Of the three full-acquisition business properties that the EA identified near I-25/Bijou, one has already relocated on its own. Drive-In Liquors, formerly under I-25 at Colorado Avenue, has bought out the former Charlie's Liquors and moved into its site three blocks north on Spruce Street (see story in Westside Pioneer, Feb. 10). The other two businesses to be purchased outright are Budget Rent-a-Car, 301 W. Bijou Street, and the Western Convenience Store, 302 W. Bijou, which are on opposite corners just west of the interchange.
       Partial acquisitions near the Bijou interchange are:
       - The LeBaron Hotel, 314 W. Bijou - underground utilities easement in a corner of the parking lot.
       - City Glass, 414 W. Colorado Ave. - a temporary easement for removing the former liquor store.
       - El Paso County buildings at 105 N. Spruce - the easement currently open to traffic between Bijou's southbound off-ramp and Spruce Street.
       - Craddock Bijou Associates, Ltd., an empty lot on Kiowa Street east of Spruce - a small portion of the property to help make room for the new I-25 southbound off-ramp.
       - Denny's - a temporary easement.
       Prudic said he is also negotiating for one of the commercial properties needed for the Cimarron interchange. This is HNM, an auto repair/recycling business at 505 W. Cucharras St.
       Rockrimmon Con-structors of Denver was selected as the COSMIX developer in late January after a competitive bidding process.

Westside Pioneer article