Local transportation officials are waiting until November’s statewide election shakes out before they decide when to spend $4.8 million replacing a crumbling bridge on Cimarron Street.
The bridge spans Conejos Street and some railroad tracks near downtown Colorado Springs. It became a symbol of the city’s deteriorating roads and bridges when city officials closed it briefly in 2003, citing safety con- cerns. The city spent $800,000 on temporary repairs. Last year, political activists used the bridge to persuade voters to approve a 1 percent sales tax to pay for road improvements. Now, leaders of the newly formed Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority are delaying plans for the bridge until the outcome of the statewide vote on new debt to pay for other transportation projects. If new debt is permitted through Referendum D, the money might pay to rebuild the nearby Cimarron Street interchange with Interstate 25. The Rural Transportation Authority, which covers all of El Paso County except for Monument and Fountain, said Wednesday it wants to coordinate the two projects, hopefully saving money and hassle for drivers. El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, who is on the authority board, tried to persuade other members to schedule the bridge replacement for 2008. She worries about tying the bridge project to state plans for rebuilding the highway interchange. “The state has a way of delaying projects and delaying projects, and I’m concerned for the safety of our citizens,” Clark said. Other board members said starting the bridge project early might cause problems because it could overlap with other traffic projects and cause traffic snags. “It will be done sooner when sooner makes sense, if we can get some benefit by doing it sooner,” said Colorado Springs City Councilman Larry Small. Authority board members agreed to a compromise Clark suggested, which calls for starting efforts to design a new bridge by 2010 no matter what happens with the state ballot measure. Referendum D calls for issuing $1.2 billion in debt to pay for transportation projects throughout Colorado. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0187 or firstname.lastname@example.org PROPOSED PROJECTS A 1 percent sales tax that voters in the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority approved in November will bring in about $185 million for road construction projects during the first five years. Here are the projects scheduled to begin between now and 2008, and the estimated cost for each. 2005 - Rebuild Austin Bluffs Parkway interchange at Union Boulevard, $31.7 million - Rebuild South Academy Boulevard from Colorado Highway 115 to Powers Boulevard, $60 million - Improvements at Austin Bluffs and Nevada Avenue, $3.99 million - Companion projects with the state Interstate 25 construction including replacement of the Bijou Street bridge, $10.3 million - Improvements at Fillmore Street and Union, $1 million - Improved traffic signals around Colorado Springs, $2 million - Buy land for Powers Boulevard expansion from Woodmen Road to Colorado Highway 16, $5 million - Safety improvements at Academy and Fountain boulevards, $395,000 - Various safety improvements around Colorado Springs, $1.4 million - Improvements at Union and Palmer Park boulevards, $135,000 - Improvements at Constitution Avenue and Chelton Road, $40,000 - Improvements to various sections of the Pikes Peak Greenway, $1 million - Widening Ute Pass Avenue through Green Mountain Falls, $245,000 - Improvements to Manitou Avenue in Manitou Springs, $2.2 million - Connect Baptist Road to Hodgen Road, between Roller Coaster Road and Colorado Highway 83, $1.07 million - Upgrade County Line Road from Interstate 25 to Furrow Road, $2.15 million - Upgrade Hodgen from Roller Coaster to Eastonville Road, $12 million - Widen Baptist Road from I-25 to Tari Drive, $6.2 million - Extend Struthers Road from Falcon’s Nest to Baptist Road, $2.2 million - Widen and extend Marksheffel Road from the Peterson Air Force Base east gate to Black Forest Road, $13.5 million 2006 - Woodmen Road widening and interchange from I-25 to Powers Boulevard, $40 million - On-street bikeway improvements around Colorado Springs, $858,000 - Improvements at Constitution and Circle Drive, $800,000 - Fillmore Street improvements from Templeton Gap Road to Hancock Avenue, $548,000 - Improvements at Fillmore and El Paso Street, $265,000 - Improvements at Academy and Pikes Peak Avenue, $860,000 - Improvements to Akers Drive between Constitution and North Carefree Circle, $2.3 million 2007 - Improvements to 30th Street from Garden of the Gods Road to Mesa Avenue, $60,000 - Improvements at Garden of the Gods and Chestnut Street, $375,000 - Vincent Drive extension from Nevada to Dublin Boulevard, $5.12 million - Fillmore improvements from I-25 to Centennial Boulevard, $4.8 million - Meridian Road extension from Falcon Highway to U.S. Highway 24, $375,000 2008 - Austin Bluffs improvements from Nevada to Academy, $18.76 million - Austin Bluffs bridge widening at Cottonwood Creek, $2.3 million - Meridian Road widening from Woodmen to Rex Road, $5.5 million 2009 - Austin Bluffs improvements from Barnes Road to Old Farm Drive, $2.73 million - Vincent Drive bridge improvements at Cottonwood Creek, $5.31 million