Spruce closed off; avenue will be narrowed under interstate

       The closure of Spruce Street between Pikes Peak and Colorado avenues this week marks a COSMIX decision on how to detour exiting southbound traffic during the Bijou Street interchange and Colorado Avenue overpass widening.
       Also revealed this week was a plan to eliminate one of the two westbound lanes on Colorado Avenue under I-25 from Oct. 1 until mid-2007, because of work required on the overpass. One of the eastbound lanes is also scheduled to be closed Oct. 1, but it will be reopened before the Bijou bridge closes Jan. 2, according to Bill Badger of Rockrimmon Constructors, the COSMIX contractor.
       It is in Rockrimmon's contract with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to keep two eastbound Colorado Avenue lanes open while the Bijou bridge is out, Badger explained. The new bridge is scheduled to be operational by Oct. 1, 2007.
       Why the westbound lane? There is expected to be less westbound traffic than eastbound during bridge construction, and City Traffic Engineering has deemed that the avenue is currently “under-utilized” anyway.
       The Spruce closure was deemed the least disruptive of three options that COSMIX, the city and CDOT had been studying for detouring southbound motorists from Bijou who want to get downtown. Rockrimmon plans to close the current southbound off-ramp Jan. 2. In its place for the nine project months will be a temporary at- grade off-ramp south of the interchange. It will allow motorists to get off the highway behind the Veterans Administration building and continue as one-way traffic along Pikes Peak Avenue west to Walnut Street (which probably will become a four-way stop) and then over to the avenue (which will probably will have a retimed traffic light and a double left-turn), Badger said.
       By closing Spruce now, work can get underway on the temporary ramp as well as some utility relocations that will require digging up the street in that area, he said.
       (As a side note, Spruce Street to Colorado Avenue had received a new chipseal topcoat this summer.)
       When the project is done, Spruce will become a cul-de-sac north of Colorado Avenue. The bridge's widening would have made it impossible for the street to access the avenue after the project, Badger said. Spruce previously ended in a T-intersection at the avenue under the bridge, with only a right-in, right-out capability.
       Another newly announced project-related detour, also scheduled Oct. 1, regards the Greenway Trail south of Monument Valley Park. From its normal path just east of the interstate, it will be temporarily re-routed onto city streets - Sierra Madre Street to Colorado Avenue to Cimino Drive and over to America the Beautiful Park, where users can connect with the Midland Trail going west under I-25. To help trail users at intersections, some street improvements are being installed, including yield signs and handicapped ramps, Badger said.
       Previously announced traffic constraints related to work on the Bijou Street and Colorado Avenue bridges have taken effect. These are:
      
  • Elimination of Bijou's old southbound on-ramp (motorists are asked to drive instead to Nevada Avenue, go south and access I-25 at the Nevada-Tejon interchange).
          
  • Elimination of I-25's auxiliary lanes in both directions between Bijou and Cimarron Street.

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