The first phase of construction began this week on a $14 million safety improvement project that will replace two bridges on Platte Avenue over Sand Creek, which officials say are deteriorating and cannot accommodate expected growth along the corridor.
Crews on Monday started demolishing portions of the southern bridge — the eastbound lanes — of Platte Avenue between Wooten Road and the Powers Boulevard interchange. The demolition is part of the first of three construction phases to replace the 64-year-old bridges on one of Colorado Springs’ major east-west thoroughfares, the city's senior engineer Aaron Egbert said Tuesday during a tour of the project site.
Crews will replace the two bridges, both roughly 350 feet long, with one span about 200-foot-long, Egbert said. The new bridge will include six traffic lanes, helping improve safety and accommodate growth along the corridor.
The bridges, built in the mid-1950s, are aging and have sustained damage when Sand Creek flooded in 2008, he said. In 2018, the city used Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to stabilize the channel downstream, but de-icing chemicals have also contributed to their degradation, according to the project website.
To accommodate the work, the eastbound lanes are currently in a single-lane configuration and no additional traffic restrictions will be required for the first phase of the removal, according to a city news release. Demolition and bridge replacement are scheduled to take place through summer 2022.
“This is the most impactful phase of construction,” Egbert said. “It’s going to be a very long process.”
The demolition work on portions of the southern bridge is expected to continue through Friday, and eastbound traffic will remain down to one lane for about six months, he said.
Egbert said he hasn’t seen any major traffic impacts because of the work, but reminded motorists to drive cautiously, and obey traffic controls and posted speed limits. Drivers should be prepared for traffic congestion and delays, and are encouraged to take alternate routes when possible.
All business access will remain open throughout construction.
After removing asphalt, crews on Monday excavated the area below the ends of the bridge and then cut and removed it. A temporary stream crossing has been built under the demolition area to protect the waterway from debris, the release stated. Using hydraulic excavators, crews will hammer and pulverize the bridge deck, moving from the center to the ends of the bridge.
The demolition work on portions of the existing southern bridge allows crews to build the new structure, Egbert said. When the new bridge is built, two lanes of eastbound traffic will be moved onto it, he said.
New sidewalks along the north and south sides of Platte Avenue over the creek will be added for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as the future Sand Creek Regional Trail under the Platte Avenue bridge. A new signalized intersection at Space Center Drive will be added to manage growth along the corridor, Egbert said.
“All of the pieces are just tying together as we’re working up the stream … and then all of the drainage improvements protect the bridge,” he said.
Funding for the $14 million project was provided equally in part by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and a federal grant.