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Winter street projects force Colorado Springs drivers to adjust

Colorado Springs-area drivers who endured numerous detours and road closures because of street projects last summer are now coping with several projects this winter.

The mild winter weather likely is helping workers to catch up or get ahead on projects during a season when there are fewer projects in progress.

Some of the more extensive projects are water main installations, such as along Bradley Road and Southgate Road, but one project will replace a bridge over Cottonwood Creek at Academy Boulevard.

Steve Berry of Colorado Springs Utilities said the city currently has a total of four water main projects, all in high-traffic areas.

“They’re projects that need to be done to replace aging infrastructure,” he said. “We also want to get them done early and get out of the way before the city resumes its expanded paving program in the spring.”

Berry said more water main projects would be needed if not for a group of CSU workers who specialize in corrosion protection.

“They use technology and chemistry to actually suck corrosion away from metal pipes in the ground,” he said. “That allows us to keep those pipes in the ground years longer than we otherwise would, and that means less disruption to traffic and businesses.”

Aaron Egbert, a senior engineer with the city, said it’s not unusual for bridge projects to occur in colder weather.

“We normally do bridge projects in the fall, winter and spring because there are lower flows in creek channels that could damage construction work,” he said. “We try to avoid starting bridge projects between May and August.”

Egbert says the city also coordinates construction projects with paving.

“So we’re doing it and Utilities is doing it,” he said. “That may make it seem to the general public as if there’s a lot of work going on.”

Berry said the water main projects will take as long as several months to complete.

The bridge project will cost $7 million and take a year to finish; it also will include a pedestrian bridge and a trail link to fill a gap between two existing trail systems.

“It’s been needed for a long time,” Egbert said. “During construction, lanes will be restricted from three to two in each direction. We ask drivers to be patient and slow down in that area.”

Berry said the mild winter hasn’t necessarily resulted in fewer water main breaks on city streets.

“Breaks are caused more by our region’s erosive soils than by the freeze-thaw cycle,” he said.

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