Colorado

Sep 7, 2010 7:09 PM by Zach Thaxton

Woodmen/Academy Interchange Project Reaches Halfway Point

A collosal construction project to create an overpass at Woodmen Road and North Academy Boulevard in Colorado Springs is on-schedule and on-budget as it reaches the halfway point this month, according to project leaders.

The project began in September 2009 and is scheduled to conclude in September 2011.  The $42 million project is funded by a combination of federal funds which are matched by the city, money from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, and federal stimulus money.  When the project is completed, Woodmen Road will pass over North Academy Boulevard.  Entrance and exit ramps will connect the two thoroughfares.

Within the next month, pouring of the Woodmen Road bridge deck will be completed and traffic on North Academy will shift beneath the Woodmen overpass.  The overpass is twice as wide as it is long, according to construction engineers.

Businesses near the construction zone have experienced varying degrees of hardship due to construction.  Access to the Woodmen Commons shopping center has remained open during the project, but entrances have been moved to accommodate construction.  The shopping center's largest tenant, King Soopers, has suspended its 24-hour operations during construction, closing overnight.  A King Soopers spokesperson would not share sales numbers with News First 5, but says there has been an impact on revenue due to construction.  Dozens of parking spaces were eliminated throughout the shopping center and four businesses -- Einstein Bros. Bagels, Albertaco's Mexican restaurant, Perfect Teeth, and T-Mobile Wirless -- were demolished to make way for construction.

Specialty stores have apparently fared better.  Scales N' Tails Exotic Reptile Pet Shop has not experienced a significant drop in business.  "I don't get as much normal stop-through traffic," said manager Chad Brinkley, but he said his regular customer clientele has not diminished during construction.  Wag N' Wash Healthy Pet Center at the west edge of the construction zone has enjoyed similar consistency in business.  "We're the fortunate ones on this side of the project," said store coordinator Abe Dunaway.

City of Colorado Springs Senior Civil Engineer Dan Krueger says project leaders have been reaching out to businesses during the course of the project, updating merchants on construction schedules, lane closures, and access issues.  "What we're trying to do throughout the project is work with everybody, keep everybody informed so that as many businesses as possible continue to operate throughout construction," Krueger said.  Brinkley says the efforts have not gone unnoticed.  "They pay for barbecues to keep merchants and everyone else informed as to what's going on," Brinkley said.

Krueger says 100,000 vehicles pass through the intersection each day, with a 50% increase in traffic expected on Woodmen Road over the next 20 years.  He says his biggest concern during construction so far has been speeding drivers.  "We're having a lot of people traveling much faster than the speed limit," he says.  Colorado Springs Police have assisted with stepped-up enforcement.  Fines for speeding in construction zones are doubled.

Construction of the interchange is just Phase 1 of a three-phase project to widen and improve Woodmen Road from I-25 to Powers Boulevard over the next two decades.  Krueger says the next phase likely would not begin until 2012 or 2013.

CLICK HERE for a web site with updated construction schedules and information on the Woodmen Road Corridor Improvement Project.

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