Nov. 23, 2017 Vol. 17 No. 1
Water line crews to burrow under creek, Manitou Avenue
Written by Jeanne Davant   


A light touch


A crew from Swingle Tree & Landscape Care hangs lights near City Hall on Monday, Nov. 20. The workers decorated 97 posts, 18 trees and the historic locomotive at Manitou Avenue and El Paso Boulevard.

Photo by Rhonda Van Pelt

Within the next few weeks, crews will begin tunneling underneath Fountain Creek and Manitou Avenue as part of a Colorado Springs Utilities project to lay a 30-inch water line.

Project Manager Steve Rodriguez said construction currently is focused on building a launching pit next to the City Hall parking lot.

“We are in the process of digging the pit and putting shoring boxes in to stabilize the excavation,” Rodriguez said at a Coffee with the Contractor meeting Nov. 15 in City Hall.

The launching pit is where the tunneling process will begin. A corresponding receiving pit will be excavated on Deer Path in December; that’s where the tunnel will end.

Rodriguez said the launching pit will be about 27 feet deep. When it’s ready, crews will drop in a drill with a 42-inch head.

“We’re going underneath the creek and under Manitou Avenue with the 42-inch drill, pushing casing pipe at the same time as we drill,” he said.

The steel casing pipe will carry a 30-inch ductile iron pipe that will be threaded through later.

The advantage to enclosing the iron pipe in the casing is that “if there’s ever an issue with the pipe, you don’t have to re-drill,” Rodriguez said.

The drilling and pipe-laying process will not require closing Manitou Avenue. Deer Path, however, will close starting Nov. 28 so crews can begin work on the receiving pit.

This part of the project will be completed early next year. The pipe will hook up at Deer Path and High Street with a 30-inch pipe that runs to the Hydro Plant.

The rest of the new 30-inch water line is being installed along El Paso Boulevard. After Thanksgiving weekend, during which no work will be done, crews will resume trenching and laying the pipe from Mayfair Avenue heading west. Another connection will be made at the receiving pit when the line reaches there sometime early next year.

“We currently have full-time closure from Mayfair to Rockledge Lane, except that we’re continuing to make sure residents and businesses are able to get where they need to be,” Rodriguez said. “We are opening the road on weekends to through traffic.”

Portions of the road will be closed for the next couple of months, he said. When possible, one lane will remain open, but full closure will occur for safety reasons when there isn’t enough room for cars to pass.

Rodriguez said crews could work weekends in December to ensure the project stays on schedule.

Colorado Springs Utilities is laying new pipeline in two segments to replace portions of a 24- to 30-inch water line that was constructed in the 1930s and runs beneath some homes and businesses.

The utility is planning major improvements to the Mesa Treatment Plant in March, and during the work, the pipelines that feed it will have to be shut down periodically. During those operations, weaknesses in older pipelines like the ones that run through Manitou Springs can cause breaks.

Putting the new pipeline in place first will ensure that no homes or businesses will be in harm’s way.

Wildcat Construction Co. is performing the work, under a contract with Utilities.

Wildcat also is conducting work on the Westside Avenue Action Plan project.

“The landscape out there on Colorado Avenue has really changed in the past month,” Project Manager Zane Stultz said. “We’re working diligently to try and get traffic back to normal for the holidays.”

Over the past six weeks, the contractor has completed utility work, grading and curbs on the south side of Manitou Avenue.

In the next six weeks, “we’re making a concerted effort to get the utility group to get the north side done,” Stultz said. “We’re also working on water lines at Fountain Creek. Once the utilities are in, we will begin foundation work for the new bridge at Adams Crossing. The new bridge will be off to one side.”

Stultz said the original plan was to build the bridge in two sections.

“We have worked really hard with Utilities to come up with a utilities plan that allows us enough room to build the bridge in one piece,” Stultz said. “That will save us a lot of time, and it means we’ll get done with the bridge ahead of time.”

Traffic flow along Colorado and Manitou avenues will remain pretty much as it is through the end of the year, El Paso County Project Manager Dennis Barron said.

Work on this project also will shut down for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and also will stop between Christmas and New Year’s, resuming Jan. 2.

The Westside Avenue Action Plan aims to improve safety, mobility and economic vitality along the 1.5-mile corridor from the U.S. Highway 24 interchange in Manitou to 31st Street in Colorado Springs formerly known as No Man’s Land.

The $30.9 million project is funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority and is a joint effort by Manitou, Colorado Springs and El Paso County.