COLORADO SPRINGS — A project to replace two aging railroad bridges south of downtown Colorado Springs could force some homeowners and business owners out of their neighborhood.
The City of Colorado Springs plans to reconstruct the Tejon Street and Nevada Avenue Railroad Bridges. The project is necessary to help resolve safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists traveling underneath them. The bridges also causes problems for large commercial vehicles.
Charles Pelzer has lived on Tejon and Mill Street for the last twelve years. He may have to relocate for the planned project.
"Mill Street has been around for a while. As long as it is improving, it shouldn't be a problem," said Pelzer.
He doesn't mind potentially moving since the reconstruction of the railroad bridges would help improve the community.
"The city needs it for the railroad bridges. It just comes with the territory, expansion of Colorado Springs," said Pelzer.
Colorado Springs was awarded a $3.8 million grant to help with rail infrastructure. Funds will be used for engineering and environmental work for the two railroad bridges downtown along with two others within the Shooks Run corridor. The project is expected to cost around $100 million.
"This first grant is the very start of what would be a much bigger effort. The grant awarded us $3.8 million, $2.5 million comes from the federal government, and $1.3 million from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA). It really starts the groundwork to get other federal grant money. Just last week, we applied for another million dollar grant to finalize the engineering efforts and construction," said Gayle Sturdivant, Deputy Public Works Director for City of Colorado Springs.
Sturdivant says the reconstruction of the bridges is needed as the Tejon Street Railroad Bridge is over 100 years old, and Nevada Avenue 70-years-old.
"As we go to replace those bridges, we are looking at getting the vertical clearance so larger vehicles can get below. We are also looking at realigning that rail. The rail alignment between those two bridges are curved. It is difficult for trains, they really have to slow down as they go through that area. This is a solution that could address both of those issues. Getting enough clearance underneath the bridges, and improve the rail alignment through that area," Sturdivant.
She anticipates the reconstruction will impact some of the properties near the new realignment of the curve.
"As the project advances, we'll have direct communication with those folks and make sure they are compensated both for the impacts of the project but also if they require relocation as part of the project," said Sturdivant. "Even though it does have direct impact to those properties, we plan to put some other amenities in the community to help. Looking at some quiet zones for railguard crossings, and some amenities adjacent to the project to help that area. Movement in and around that area is going to be a lot safer, accessible, and give folks more transportation options."
The project could also help with the Front Range Passenger Rail that may be coming to the city. The reconstruction railroad bridges would have two rail lines— one could be use for freight and the other for the passenger rail.
Construction preps for the project are expected to start in a few months. Construction would begin after more funding is obtained.