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While a number of people look on, Scott Asher (far right), an engineer with Wilson & Co. (a contractor in the planning effort), explains a large Cimarron/I-25 interchange replacement display during the open house June 3 in City Auditorium downtown.
Westside Pioneer photo

Public OK with Cimarron/I-25 project, as well as 2 roadway closures during it; CDOT still taking comments

ABOVE: A planning graphic illustrates several of the possibilities for aesthetics in the interchange design. BELOW: The potential landscape plan is shown, down to the names of tree types. Also shown is the project's planned realignment of the Midland Trail, just north of Fountain Creek to its confluence with Monument Creek. (Note: The map appears to show the trail going over the interstate and its ramps, but it will go under them.)
Courtesy of CDOT; Westside Pioneer photos

       Although a final decision has not yet been announced, Cimarron/I-25 planners gained fresh support at the open house June 3 for proposals to close two road segments during part of the two-year project.
       As described in the comment forms made available at the open house, the closures would be on the I-25 northbound on-ramp “for up to 90 days (not during the summer tourist season)” and on Cimarron Street east of the 1-25 interchange “for up to 120 days (not during the winter holiday season).” The belief is that those road shutdowns would speed up project completion
       The project is being planned by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), in concert with local business, civic and government leaders. Budgeted at $95 million, the project is slated to start construction sometime next spring. Work is scheduled to last through July 2017, although CDOT officials hope it could be done sooner.
       About 175 people attended the open house at the downtown City Auditorium, viewing displays, asking questions of engineers and hearing speeches from three project leaders, as well as Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach. The mayor described the project as “definitely momentous for the region,” in large part because it will enhance the interchange as a gateway to the city and to the mountains.
       Of the attendees, only 16 submitted comment forms. However, support for the closure plan has been “consistently heard” in previous discussions with citizens, according to CDOT's comment-form explanation, and the new feedback matched that.
       Dave Watt, CDOT resident engineer for the state's Region 2 (which includes Colorado Springs), said after the meeting that most of the commenters "felt closures could not be avoided as long as they expedite project completion. A couple of people re-emphasized the need to keep the ramp open during tourist season so as not to impact tourism-related businesses. We also heard that when the ramp and bridge are closed, the detours need to be well communicated and that very specific detour signage needs to be in place to minimize impacts to drivers unfamiliar with Colorado Springs.”
       Other requests in the comment form were for observations about the open house and for questions about the project in general. Watt said CDOT is mulling the responses to those requests to see if any might affect plans.
       Overall, he believes that the community likes the project. Asked if this may have been why the open house, which was well-advertised, did not draw a huge crowd, Watt responded, “We heard broad support for the project during our outreach efforts leading up to the open house and broad support during the open house. Yes, generally where there is broad acceptance of a project, or the public has very few questions, you have a lighter turnout at open houses.”
       In any case, citizens are still welcome to submit their opinions and suggestions, and this will continue to be the case even during construction, according to Lisa Bachman, a communications specialist who is part of the project team. More Ciimarron/I-25 information can be found at the project website. The e-mail address is dot_i25cimarron@state.co.us.
       Ideas are especially being sought on aesthetic aspects, such as landscaping and ornamental work (including rock types, colors and panel designs), based on displays at the open house.
       As indicated by the open house displays, the basic design elements have already been determined. In addition to the interchange, each of
In a photo looking down from the seating area above, attendees at the June 3 open house in City Auditorium study displays concerning the planned Cimarron/I-25 interchange project.
Westside Pioneer photo
the ramp layouts will be changed, the lane configuration underneath the bridge will become like the one at Garden of the Gods and I-25; and the interstate's curve about a half-mile south of Cimarron will become straighter, in part by moving the roadway around the interchange up to 75 feet to the west, Watt said. The northern limit of the project will be the Colorado Avenue overpass, which was replaced in the I-25 widening project of 2005-07 (COSMIX).
       The current interchange was built in 1959, when the interstate was first extended through Colorado Springs. The new structure “will be more consistent with today's design standards, with safe access to the downtown and Westside neighborhoods,” Watt said.
       The final project touches will occur when CDOT hires a project contractor. That's scheduled to happen by early 2015. CDOT plans to advertise it as a “design/build” contract. This is an approach aimed at giving contractors flexibility to make changes based on what they find in the field. Watt has estimated that about 80 percent of the interchange's final design will occur this way. CDOT also used a design/build strategy with COSMIX.
       The Cimarron/I-25 work will likely occur simultaneously for several months with CDOT's Fillmore/I-25 interchange replacement project, which is anticipated to begin construction in mid-to-late September and continue until around the end of 2015.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 6/6/14, updated 6/12/14; Transportation: Cimarron/I-25)

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