The Summer of 2016 is shaping up to be a doozy for some drivers in Fort Collins, especially those who routinely use Prospect Road.
Four major construction projects are either underway, or about to get underway on a stretch of the corridor from I-25 to the CSU campus.
The highway is shut down from the Frontage Road just west of I-25 to Summit View Drive, while work crews replace one bridge and add another over Boxelder Creek. The closure is expected to last until the end of August.
Work crews are also doing some intersection improvement work at Prospect and Timberline.
Fort Collins Civil Engineer Tim Kemp told Denver7 they are adding a right turn lane, sidewalks and bike lanes to bring the intersection up to standards.
Next week, there will also be a full closure of Prospect Road at Stover Street for a major storm water utility project.
“The road will be closed for about a month between Remington and LeMay so they can replace culverts and do some street maintenance,” Kemp said. “We should be finished by the Fourth of July.”
Further west, on the CSU campus, work crews are adding a bicycle and pedestrian underpass at Prospect and Center Avenue.
Kemp said they began “messaging” residents about the projects and planned closures four months ago.
“We did outreach, had open houses and neighborhood meetings,” he said. “We met one on one with some people.”
But not everyone got the word.
“I tried to come in on Prospect today,” said Teri Grotts, “but it was closed near I-25.”
Like many other drivers who use the Prospect exit, Grotts had to detour north toward Mulberry and then circle around to get to her destination at the City Recycling Drop-off on Riverside Avenue.
She said many drivers are impatient in regular traffic and she worries they'll become even more so, with all the construction.
“We are a society of, ‘It’s my right to drive like an idiot and to flip you off and to cut you off,’ instead of a society of, ‘It’s my privilege and I will be nice,’” she said.
Kemp said he understands the frustration but adds the work is needed for safety reasons.
He said they did some bridge work earlier, but that most of the work needs to be done during the summer months, when kids are out of school and when temperatures are more conducive to asphalt and concrete work.
Kemp said there is signage directing drivers to alternate routes along Mulberry and Drake.
“We’re also changing the signal timing on Mulberry and Drake to make things flow a little smoother with the additional traffic that we’ll see for the next few months,” he said.
Business owners along Prospect are watching nervously as the construction season gets underway.
Dallas Hageman, the general manager at Hageman Earth Cycle, a rock, mulch, soil and organic recycling center, told Denver7 that the closure of Prospect over Boxelder Creek has slowed traffic in front of their business.
“We’re not concerned about repeat business,” Hageman said, “but we are concerned that new customers might not be able to find us.”
Hageman said the stretch of Prospect in front of the Earth Cycle center is open to local traffic.
“The construction dead-ends right at our property,” he said. “You can’t come in from the east, you have to go around and come in from the west to get to our business.”
The Welcome Center just off I-25 and Prospect is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but you can only access it from the frontage road. (turn south on the frontage road and then loop around the rest stop.)
Kemp said 25,000 vehicles a day use that stretch of Prospect Road. He encourages drivers who have to use the detours, to be patient.