Cross your fingers: Chestnut Street could reopen as early as Nov. 12
It won't even look like a bridge. For new motorists and those with short memories, it will be just another stretch of road.
But for most of the past year, the roughly one-eighth mile between Vondelpark and Ellston has been a closed-off flurry of construction activity, notably marked by a pit in the ground some 30 feet deep and 100 feet across.
Regular visitors would have seen, looking down, extensive, mostly drainage- related concrete work and the section-by-section construction in late August this year of a 140-foot-long arched-concrete
According to Alex Pellegrino, the city's Chestnut project engineer, Nov. 12 at about 8 p.m. is the goal to have the two-lane roadway painted and striped. Even if that goal is achieved, work will still be required at least through the end of November to finish building the sidewalks, adding landscaping and cleaning up around the site, he clarified.
Pellegrino noted that he's well aware of the problems caused for drivers, as well as nonmotorized traffic, by the closure. “I hope citizens see how hard we've been working to get it open,” he said.
The culvert replaces a former eight-foot-wide corrugated-metal pipe that once carried the creek flow under Chestnut. Its failure in August 2015 forced the road's closure between Vondelpark and Ellston
The old pipe's problems had been known, with money set aside from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to replace it in 2019, but city engineers had not expected it to collapse four years early.
During the project, to avert flooding and construction conflicts, the creek flow was diverted around the project area through a rubber pipe. Also, some utilities that had to be disconnected and temporarily rerouted have now been restored back under the roadway.
Through September and October, SEMA crews compacted tons of dirt around the culvert and roughly 30 feet above it to bring the grade even with the Chestnut roadway on either side. This is how the “bridge” had been built previously. City engineers believe this was and is an effective design - especially now, with the concrete culvert; also it costs about 25 percent less than a traditional single-span bridge.
As a safeguard against future settling, a third-party geotechnical engineer continually tested the compaction integrity, according to Pellegrino.
By early November, the pit was completely filled in and the grade was at street level, with reconnected utilities also laid in below the surface. The only work remaining was the above-described efforts to create the roadbed, pave it and open it again to traffic.
What won't be open soon is the Sinton Trail through the culvert. A delay of several months is foreseen, because funding is still needed to pave the trail as it goes to the culvert on either side, according to Chris Lieber of City Parks. For the time being, trail users must cross Chestnut Street at grade, as they did before.
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