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State plans 'shortcut' easing 8th & Cimarron traffic as part of interchange project

       A design for a new connector road to let motorists shortcut the Eighth & Cimarron intersection is emerging from contractor plans for the new Cimarron/I-25 interchange.
       City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager said she is "thrilled" at the prospect of less traffic at the intersection about a third of a mile west of the interchange, reduced traffic delays and better access to the 37,000-square-foot Colorado Place shopping center at the southwest corner.
       The opportunity arose because of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) having bought the property southeast of Eighth & Cimarron three years ago that once housed the Express Inn. The connector will run through the 4.6-acre site and be built as part of the interchange project.
       The road will connect to Cimarron west of the freeway ramps - where a stoplight will
View looks east across Eighth Street from the Colorado Place shopping center exit. In the background, a backhoe works on the remains of the Express Inn, which was recently demolished. The property belongs to the Colorado Department of Transportation. A new "shortcut" road, part of the Cimarron/I-25 interchange project, will run from the exit, where a stoplight will make shopping-center access easier, across the Express Inn property to Cimarron Street.
Westside Pioneer photo
allow left turns - and to Eighth Street south of the Acorn station, where a stoplight will be lined up with the currently difficult Colorado Place exit.
       I think the businesses will be excited, commented Karen Rowe, CDOT's regional transportation director, in announcing the plan at the monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) board of directors March 11.
       She said the connector idea came from Kraemer/TSH, which was selected in February as the contractor team for the $116 million Cimarron/I-25 project.
       Krager said she's been able to confirm an analysis by the contractor of the connector's expected driving benefits. These include a 20 percent average reduction in weekday traffic delays at Eighth & Cimarron and 40 percent on tourist-season weekends, she said.
       Another favorable effect will be reduced urgency for the state to build an interchange at Eighth & Cimarron. Such is called for in a recently completed CDOT Highway 24 study. And, at one point, regional planners had it ranked as the second top transportation priority, behind only Cimarron/I-25. But now, an 8th & Cimarron interchange can wait 10 to 20 years, which will free up city money for other projects, Krager said.
       More detailed information about the new connector - as well as the project as a whole - is being developed, with a public meeting/open house in May or June, Rowe said.
       Groundbreaking for the interchange project is now slated to occur in April or May, she also said. That would be a month or more later than the time frame indicated by a CDOT spokesperson in late February, but the predicted end date is still December of 2017, Rowe said.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 3/10/15; Transportation: Cimarron/I-25)

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