The City of Colorado Springs is working on a study and design to determine the best approach and optimal placement of two railroad bridges at the south end of downtown Colorado Springs. The aging bridges over South Nevada Avenue (70 years old) and South Tejon Street (115 years old) have reached the end of their service life and have become a safety concern and, therefore; require replacement by the City in conjunction with the railroad. In addition, the height of the underpass beneath each bridge does not currently meet minimum standards. Although the earliest the project can proceed with construction is 2025, pending renewal of the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) initiative, involvement by the community early in the planning phase has provided extensive advance notice of potential impacts and helped to determine an associated construction cost estimate.
The City’s project team has conducted extensive and multi-faceted community outreach and engagement program to receive community input through the project’s planning phase. Over the past three years, numerous meetings and information sessions have been held with Mill Street neighborhood property owners, businesses, organizations and stakeholders to provide input on nearly a dozen different alternatives. Based on community input, technical considerations, stakeholder and railroad requirements, and analysis of the Mill Street Neighborhood and Envision Shooks Run plans, a preferred alternative for the project is being recommended by the City’s project team.
Details Associated with the Preferred Alternative
The railroad mainline double track realignment in the preferred alternative would be between Sahwatch Street and El Paso Street. This alternative would shift the rail alignment slightly to the south and eliminate the curves in the existing rail alignment between Sierra Madre and Weber Street. The Nevada Avenue and Tejon Street railroad bridges would be relocated to the new alignment. Reconstruction of the railroad would also include a new rail bridge over the Shooks Run waterway.
CLICK HERE for enlarged Preferred Alternative map.
Improved at-grade crossings:
The existing at-grade railroad crossings at Sierra Madre Street, Las Animas Street, and Conejos Street would be upgraded to be consistent with Quiet Zone Crossing requirements and address safety and noise issues in this part of the rail corridor. Minor improvements would be made to address sidewalk and other deficiencies on Sierra Madre Street between Mill and Las Animas Streets and on Las Animas Street between Conejos and Sierra Madre Streets.
With the preferred alternative, the existing vertical clearance inadequacies between South Nevada Avenue and South Tejon Street with the two railroad bridges would be addressed by raising the bridges and lowering the streets slightly as needed. The roadway lowering and construction would extend for approximately one block between Mill Street and Fountain Boulevard and would represent relatively minor changes to the existing roadway grades. The length of the new rail bridges could accommodate wider roadway sections at Tejon Street (96 feet) and Nevada Avenue (108 feet) in the future. Incidental reconstruction of short portions of the cross-streets north and south of the existing railroad underpasses may be required, and sidewalk improvements will be included along Nevada Avenue and Tejon Street between Mill Street and Fountain Boulevard to address existing deficiencies.
The major drainage improvement with the preferred alternative includes replacing the existing rail bridge over the Shooks Run waterway. Widening and transition of the existing channel accommodates the Shooks Run Trail for a critical connection to the Legacy Loop as defined in the Envisions Shooks Run Facilities Master Plan. Additional water quality and floodplain improvements in the Shooks Run and Fountain Creek floodplains will be included as required by the project.
Summary of Features of the Preferred Alternative
The features of the railroad bridges and roadway underpasses reconstruction preferred alternative will improve safety, connections, accessibility and contribute to quality of life for residents of the Mill Street neighborhood based on the Mill Street Neighborhood Plan, and include:
- Two New Railroad Bridges over South Tejon Street and South Nevada Avenue
- New Rail Mainline Double Track Realignment
- BNSF Railroad Spur & Yard Reconstruction/Relocation improvements to existing Sierra Madre, Las Animas and Conejos at-grade Railroad Crossings to create a Quiet Zones
- Reconstruction of Railroad Bridge over the Shooks Run waterway
- South Nevada Avenue and South Tejon Street Reconstruction as required for bridge replacements, increased height of the underpasses to meet minimum standards, and to address sidewalk deficiencies
- Water quality, floodplain and utility improvements as required
- Accommodate the critical Shooks Run Trail connection to Legacy Loop between Old Stone Rail Bridge and Fountain Creek
- Provide property access as required for railroad realignment and bridge replacement