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Powers and Research interchange one of many major road projects on tap for 2021

Here's a breakdown of some of the biggest traffic game-changers we can expect
Powers and Research interchange one of many major road projects on tap for 2021
Posted at 7:01 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 08:42:37-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — As people continue to flock to Colorado, our roads just keep getting more crowded. In response, CDOT has several new highway improvement projects on tap for 2021, including a long awaiting interchange along Powers Boulevard.

“There are two very large projects coming to the Colorado Springs area,” said CDOT Communications Manager Michelle Peulen.

Those projects include CDOT’s Military Access, Mobility and Safety Improvement project, as well as a new interchange at Powers and Research.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s on tap this year.

Powers and Research Interchange

Plans calling to replace the four-way controlled intersection at Powers Blvd. (CO 21) and Research Pkwy on the Springs’ northeast side with a grade-separated, diverging diamond interchange have been on the books long before 2021.

“The project was initially supposed to start in summer of 2020,” Peulen said.

Budget shortfalls, in part, due to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted the project until further notice.

But over the holidays, CDOT learned it would now be able to move forward with the project thanks to government assistance.

“That is thanks to the recent COVID stimulus bill,” Peulen said.

She said the stimulus money CDOT received had to be spent on a project that could get started quickly, bringing a relatively immediate impact.

Peulen said crews will break ground on the interchange this summer, with an expected completion sometime in 2024.

“Making Powers what we call a freeway, is the ultimate plan,” Puelen said.

That would mean converting all signalized, at-grade intersections along Powers into grade-separated interchanges, like what is being done at Powers and Research.

Peulen said making Powers a freeway is a goal that can’t all happen at once. Rather, she said it will come together over time in small chunks, and the Powers and Research interchange is one of those chunks.

Powers (Voyager) and I-25 Interchange

Crews with Wildcat construction broke ground on one of the region’s most ambitious highway projects--an interchange connecting Powers Blvd. to I-25, back in December 2019.

When completed, the interchange will allow traffic to merge seamlessly off of I-25 and onto Powers Blvd, without having to stop.

A spokesperson for Wildcat Construction told News 5 the project is moving along as scheduled, and is on track to be complete this summer.

She said the project hit a major milestone with the completion of two bridges allowing northbound I-25 traffic to pass over ramps for the interchange, and the last major milestone before wrapping up the project will come sometime this spring, when two bridges allowing southbound I-25 traffic to pass over the ramps are expected to be completed.

While the interchange is a major step toward connecting Powers to I-25, that connection won’t come with the completion of the interchange.

When the interchange opens this summer, it will carry traffic from I-25 to Voyager Parkway, where it will be forced to exit.

Long term plans call for Powers to be extended from Voyager through the Flying Horse neighborhood to connect with its current terminus at Interquest Parkway.

“Obviously it’s a priority for us to look at that, and I’m sure the developer in the area is looking at that, but right now there are no plans,” Peulen said.

The spokesperson for Wildcast Construction told News 5, until the final connection from Voyager to Interquest is built, exit signs on I-25 for the new interchange will be marked as “Voyager Parkway,” rather than “Powers Blvd.” to avoid confusion.

Military Access, Mobility and Safety Improvement Project

CDOT will kick off the second phase of this project in the spring. The project is aiming to make the area’s many military installations more accessible.

Puelen said the first phase of the project brought new passing lanes for traffic headed to Schriever Air Force Base on CO-94.

The next phase, set to start this spring, will improve the I-25 corridor surrounding Fort Carson, between the City of Fountain and the South Academy Blvd. exit.

“In the Spring, we will be starting work on I-25 for the project, Peulen said. “It’s going to be an extensive project, we’re going to be replacing some bridges.”

She said another focus of the project calls for replacing the stretch of I-25’s current as[halt surface with a concrete driving surface, which is more durable for the area’s terrain and soil, and freeze/thaw pattern.

I-25 ramp metering

CDOT installed meters on several entrance ramps to I-25 through Colorado Springs in 2020, aiming to control the flow of traffic entering the highway at peak times.

“We just recently wrapped up the I-25 ramp metering project in Colorado Springs,” Peulen said.

But there will be more where that came from.“We are launching a phase two of that project in 2021 to add some additional ramps in Colorado Springs,” Peulen said.

A timeline for the second phase was not immediately clear.

US-50 and Purcell Blvd. interchange

Crews began a major undertaking in Pueblo County in 2020--converting the intersection of US-50 and Purcell Blvd. into a grade-separated interchange.

Peulen said a third lane has already been added for traffic on highway 50, and crews are nearing one of the project’s first major milestones.

“We’re building the on and off ramps, and then the building of the actual bridge for the interchange will start this spring,” Peulen said.

CDOT expects the project to be completed sometime in summer 2022.