COLORADO SPRINGS –
When state bridge inspectors first spotted the crack in the concrete pillar of the Cimarron Bridge in 2012, it was so slight it wasn’t even considered a priority. But after two winters of freezing and thawing, the split widened to a dangerous level.
“Once a crack develops, it’s just going to keep growing with the freeze thaw cycles,” explained Alex Pellegrino, a Civil Engineer for the City of Colorado Springs. “As we’re seeing it today it’s probably a couple of inches wider than it was 2 years ago.”
The 56 year old bridge carries traffic over Fountain Creek and is not the newer bridge built in 2008 which crosses the railroad tracks.
It will eventually be torn down and replaced as part of new I-25 and Cimarron interchange project. In fact, C-DOT engineers noticed the deterioration while exploring the site for redesign.
Still, the crack had weakened the bridge’s substructure enough to classify it as structurally deficient, a designation that can require weight restrictions. City leaders realized they needed to shore the pillar up until it could be replaced.
“We had to jack up the bridge, put the steel beams under, go down to the foundation and that ensures that the bridge can support legal truck loads,” explained Senior Civil Engineer Aaron Egbert.
The repairs cost more than $100,000 and the funds came from the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority. When voters renewed the one percent sales tax in 2012, the ballot language added an emergency fund specifically for bridge repairs.
“Having those bridge funds are critical to us keeping these assets open and functioning properly,” Egbert said.
The repair is one of dozens of transportation improvements finished in the last decade thanks to the transportation authority.
“Nearly every transportation project in our region over the last 10 years has received PPRTA funding,” City Councilman Merv Bennett told a crowd gathered outside the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government Offices Wednesday.
The city and county called a news conference to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the tax and to praise voters for twice investing in critical infrastructure.
During that decade, more than $700,000,000 was spent on dozens of major improvements across the region including the overpass at Austin Bluffs and Union and the Proby Parkway flyover and expansion. The authority leveraged the taxpayers money and qualify for a federal stimulus grants to build the overpass at Woodmen and Academy.
Annie Oatman-Gardner, who served on the steering committee to develop the RTA in the early 2000’s, noted that some 279,888 potholes had been filled using PPRTA funds.