New Cimarron-Conejos bridge remains low on RTA’s ‘A’ list

       Despite appeals from Westsider/County Commissioner Sallie Clark and Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) President Jim Fenimore, a new Cimarron Street Bridge is no closer to being built than before.
       Meetings of Colorado Springs City Council and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) this week brought out a consensus not to move the bridge up on the RTA list - chiefly because of future savings that could result from joining the state in building the span (otherwise priced at $4.8 million) as part of a new Cimarron/I-25 interchange.
       Constructed by the state as part of the original I-25 project in 1958, the bridge (over Conejos Street and the railroad tracks just east of I-25), is on the RTA's “A” list, but not among those projects scheduled to be accomplished through 2009. After a safety scare three years ago, work completed in 2004 gave the bridge another 10 years, City Engineering has estimated. However, argued Clark (also an RTA board member), it should have a higher priority, “in the interests of citizens,” than an identically priced project to widen Fillmore Street between I-25 and Centennial Boulevard.
       Fenimore told the RTA board June 15 that building the bridge sooner would be a “good investment for the city” by enhancing two of its most historic areas: the Westside and the downtown. This could improve tourism, bolster private investment and “put money in our pockets that we wouldn't have had previously,” he said.
       The Fillmore project came into the picture after City Council asked City Engineering to study the issue in April and suggest an “A” project that could move down the list if the Cimarron bridge moved up. Fillmore expenditures are currently scheduled to start in 2007.
       The council consensus (from its informal meeting June 13) was “to keep it (the Cimarron bridge) where it is until we get a better idea of what's happening with the Cimarron interchange,” explained City Council member/RTA board member Larry Small.
       Clark was able to gain support for a compromise RTA board motion that the body “look at” designing the bridge by 2010 if nothing has happened by then on the interchange. She said this would at least show an “intent” by the board to get the bridge built as soon as reasonably possible.
       Small, who had argued against Clark's move-up efforts, said he could support that motion because it didn't change the bridge's current status among projects to be built between 2010 to 2014. The ballot language of the RTA, passed by voters last November, stipulated that all “A” projects have to be built within 10 years.
       The Cimarron/I-25 interchange, part of the state's I-25 (COSMIX) project, has been approved for construction, but no funding exists. The city's hope is that next November's statewide ballot issue D - part of the state's temporary TABOR-rollback plan - will pass and thus provide money for the interchange.

Westside Pioneer article