Construction work has begun on a one-year project to eliminate congestion at the tangled intersection of Fillmore and Chestnut streets.
The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority hopes the project will bring logic to an intersection where Interstate 25 off-ramp traffic meets neighborhoods roads with a maze of one-way signs and lights.
“We’re working to eliminate the confusing intersection we have with Chestnut and the I-25 ramps,” said Aaron Egbert, PPRTA project manager. “When it’s all done, it’ll be a significant improvement.”
Motorists won’t be affected by the work for several months, until paving and lane adjustments are necessary. No lane closures are expected to occur unless it’s during night work.
Chestnut Street traffic will be moved one block west of where it intersects Fillmore. When work is done, Chestnut will intersect Fillmore where Parker Street does.
On the south side of Fillmore, Parker Street will end in a cul-de-sac, making way for the new Chestnut.â€¨Cost of the project is $7.2 million, which includes design and right-of-way purchases. The construction contract with Blue Ridge Construction is $4.4 million.
The project is funded by Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. It was an A list project from the 2004 election that created PPRTA and levied a 1 percent roads and bridges improvement tax.
The six-legged intersection immediately west of I-25 includes on- and off-ramps for the freeway. The project is expected to reduce wait times and improve traffic flow and safety for the 21,000 vehicles that pass through the intersection each day.
Egbert said work began in October to create the new Chestnut.
“We’re doing utility work, dirt, curb, gutters, storm sewers, which is part of moving Chestnut and creating the cul-de-sac,” Egbert said.
A difficult part of the project will be to change the grade of the hill at the new intersection on Fillmore from 9 percent to 6 percent. That’ll be accomplished, Egbert said, by “raising up” the road from the I-25 ramps back to the new intersection.
El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark applauded the project, which is in her district.
“It’ll decomplicate the mess. It’s a complex intersection and very difficult to navigate,” she said. “It’ll make the neighborhood on the north side of Fillmore easier to develop. A shopping center is being planned there.”
Clark said she avoids the intersection.
But moving Chestnut won’t completely solve the congestion problem that extends to the Fillmore Street bridge over I-25. Planned work by the Colorado Department of Transportation is expected to create a “diverging diamond” interchange there. It would redirect bridge traffic while further improving traffic flow and eliminating on-ramp waits at left-turn signals.
Local officials have applied twice for federal funding for the bridge project but been turned down.
Still, CDOT north program engineer Doug Lollar said, “We’re designing it now so we can be in a position to start. I’m optimistic we’ll get funding before long.”
Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens â€¨Facebook Gazette Bob Stephens