New Cimarron bridge to have style... and 4 lanes by June

       The new, wider Cimarron Street bridge east of I-25 will have bike lanes, true sidewalks, acceleration/deceleration lanes and an appearance similar to that of the planned Bijou Street interchange. There may also be pedestrian ramps leading down to nearby America the Beautiful Park.
       From a functionality standpoint, motorists may be pleased to know that the bridge is to have four lanes again by June.
       City of Colorado Springs Engineer Cam McNair described the updated plans at a meeting of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) Nov. 16.
       The span will replace the existing 48-year-old structure - the south side of which has been deemed unsafe to carry traffic any longer - over Conejos Street and the railroad tracks.
       The construction starting date is still uncertain, but as early as December demolition could be underway on the old south side, he said.
       The work will have no functional impact on current traffic; it will continue to be one lane each way over the north side, as it has since August. However, in June, when the new south side is scheduled for completion, there will be room for two traffic lanes each way, McNair explained.
       When the bridge's new north side is finished in late 2007, the bike lanes and accel/decel lanes will become usable on both sides, based on plans.
       The sidewalks will be six feet wide on each side, the bike lanes five feet.
       The new bridge will connect on its west end to the state-owned Cimarron Street bridge over Monument Creek. That bridge “is not in great shape, but it's OK,” McNair said. According to federally approved plans for a new (as yet unfunded) interchange at I-25 and Cimarron/Highway 24, the state bridge would be replaced as part of that project.
       At the OWN meeting, McNair unveiled artist's renderings of the city's Cimarron bridge. It will sport narrow, tapered 16-foot high stone “monuments” at either end - just like the new Bijou bridge. Other Bijou-matching aesthetic aspects will include the brown pigment, ornamental railings and historic-style streetlights.
       The anticipated cost is $8 million, McNair said. The Cimarron bridge project is an “A list” item for Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) funding, but the estimate when voters approved the RTA's penny sales tax in 2004 was $4.8 million. The city plans to borrow from the budgets of other major capital improvement projects (ones not yet ready for construction) to make up most of the difference.
       At present, while keeping the bridge's north side open, the city is so concerned about its safety that it has set up height and width restrictions to discourage heavier vehicles.
       OWN board member Dave Hughes suggested that a sign be put on the monument facing westbound to identify that Old Colorado City is in that direction. McNair said that would be looked into.
       A sign identifying Old Colorado City or the Westside is to be placed on the Bijou bridge and possibly by the I-25 bridge over Colorado Avenue at I-25, based on prior discussions. Both those bridges are being rebuilt in 2007 as part of the COSMIX I-25 widening project.
       Rockrimmon Constructors, the COSMIX contractor, has also been retained by the city to build the Cimarron bridge.
       McNair said he understands the adverse impact the triple-bridge-project activity will have on motorists, but observed, “After it's all done, it's going to be better.”

Westside Pioneer article