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Under the Manitou sign, street crews work to locate utility lines for mapping out on Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The 1.5-mile span of West Colorado Avenue, from 31st Street to U.S. 24, links the tourism magnets of Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs — both flaunting an Old West flavor with eclectic shops and restaurants in historic storefronts. JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE

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The massive makeover of West Colorado Avenue into Manitou Springs won’t be completed until early 2019 due to weather- related delays and other hangups, El Paso County officials report.

But major components of the multi- million-dollar renewal will be finished this year, as expected, and the leftover work likely will have minimal effects on area drivers, said Greg Dingrando, the county’s digital media specialist.

Since crews broke ground in late 2016 on the revamp, from 31st Street to U.S. 24, drivers have endured ever-changing lane restrictions and traffic barriers.

When completed, the four-lane West Colorado Avenue, which turns into Manitou Avenue, will be transformed into a two-lane span bisected by a center turn lane and lined with bike lanes, wide sidewalks and vintage streetlights.

The 1.5-mile stretch had been known as No Man’s Land because it was controlled by two cities and the county, causing confusion during emergencies.

Torrential rain and hail in late July, along with challenges in land acquisition and utility work, caused the project to take longer than expected, Dingrando said.

Work continuing next year includes: completion of a pedestrian and bicycle plaza at Ridge Road, improvements to Fountain Creek, landscaping and work on historic stone walls that had to be temporarily removed from along the creek and Columbia Road, he said.

Traffic lanes might have to be shifted to alllow crews to finish the plaza, but most work in 2019 will be done off the road, Dingrando said.

The project’s cost has grown too, from about $30 million to about $35.5 million. The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority originally provided about $25 million in sales tax revenue but increased that to about $30 million to help cover the increase.

That cost likely will rise even more with contract extensions, Digrando said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Springs Utilities, the county and Manitou Springs also are funding the project.

Crews now are rebuilding the Adams Crossing Bridge over Fountain Creek at Columbia Road, and they’re reopening Columbia between West Colorado and West Pikes Peak avenues. The new bridge is higher, so the road has to be raised and paved, Dingrando said.

The county hopes to have the new bridge and Columbia Road open to traffic by the end of September, he said.

Utilities, which is moving the area power lines underground, needs to take down utility poles when the new lines are activated, Dingrando said.

On Aug. 30, CDOT reopened Ridge Road between U.S. 24 and West Colorado Avenue. The block had been closed so crews could build traffic islands and improve drainage. Upgrades to West Colorado Avenue at Ridge Road included new water mains, curb and gutter work, and asphalt paving, CDOT said in a news release.

Ridge Road between West Colorado and West Pikes Peak avenues was permanently closed in January. That block is being converted into a plaza that will feature bike racks, a bike repair vending machine and a lane for Mountain Metropolitan Transit buses so passengers can safely load and unload.

The Midland Trail remains closed at the project site, but it likely will reopen early next year, Dingrando said.

County Government Reporter

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