nooh-construction6

The construction on Austin Bluffs Parkway is expected to be mostly completed by December. Traffic has navigated around construction equipment 
and orange cones since June 2013.

                                                                                                     Nooh Alrashid | The Scribe

Nov. 10, 2014

Nick Beadleston
nbeadles@uccs.edu

Students may have become accustomed to unpaved roads, diesel spewing machinery and stagnant traffic as parts of their daily commute.

But all that should soon be miles behind them.

Officials expect construction on Segment 1 of Austin Bluffs Parkway, which runs along the university, to be completed before the month is done.

“They’re telling us end of November,” said Gary Reynolds, UCCS executive director of Facilities Services, referring to the Pikes Peak Transit Authority and Lawrence Construction.

According to a statement released Sept. 25 by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, “a revised schedule allows for all six lanes of Austin Bluffs Parkway between Nevada Ave. and Union Blvd to be open to traffi c by Nov. 30, 2014.”

The PPRTA funded, $22.5 million Austin Bluffs Parkway Corridor project began June 17, 2013. Segment 1 was originally slated for completion at the end of September 2014. “

According to the transportation authority, delays to the original 16-month plan were caused by unseasonal rainfall that hindered construction and caused damage to existing work.

Improvements to utilities along the route and the addition of a second right turn lane at the Meadow Lane and Austin Bluffs Parkway intersection also added to construction time.

“There’s some pain with how long it’s taken,”  Reynold said. “But there have been improvements for the city and us.”

Despite weather delays and increased commute times, those involved with the project feel construction has had a minimal impact on residents.

“With the university and all the shopping there is so much traffic,” said Tracee Jackson, spokesperson for Colorado Springs based Lawrence Construction, the company responsible for the work. “[Residents] can see the long range goal.” “[Construction workers have] worked very hard to keep four lanes and turn lanes open,” Jackson added.

“Students are diligent and I think they have all made the necessary adjustments to accommodate the construction,” Chris Roth, SGA president, said.

Others on campus have seen a more direct impact from the construction.

“We have seen an increase in accidents,” said Brian McPike, executive director of Public Safety. “We do get the complaints.”

McPike said his department has responded to more rear end collisions since construction began. He said this is largely due to commuters who become complacent and fail to anticipate changes caused by construction.

“It’s the nature of the construction zone,” he said.

UCCS police were also called to help when heavy fl ooding combined with construction forced road closures on Austin Bluffs over the summer.

According to Reynolds, the university has sent one of its three project managers to weekly Tuesday planning meetings for the duration of the project to present any concerns from UCCS. The meetings have consisted of members of the PPRTA, Lawrence Construction, city planners and other subcontractors.

Jackson indicated university representatives were vocal regarding university concerns and said, “if there was an issue, it was literally put on the table.”

Reynolds said PPRTA and Lawrence Construction have made efforts to reduce construction when the university has had major events on campus.

He added that communication with the planning committee has allowed for the extension of the university bike path and the running of internet cables down to the Lane Center.

Segment 1 is one of three road segments undergoing construction in the third and final phase of the Austin Bluffs Parkway Corridor project.

Need for the project was expressed in the city’s 18-month, 2002 East-West Mobility Study, which labeled Austin Bluffs Parkway as one of six significant city corridors in need of modifications.

“All the hard work is paying off for a beautiful thoroughfare,” Jackson said.

Though the project, from Nevada Ave. to Old Farm Drive, will be completed by the end of the year, additional landscaping and minor construction is expected to continue through spring 2015.