Barnes Road runs east-west through the City of Colorado Springs, a rapidly growing and continuously developing community of nearly 480,000 residents (up 15% since 2010). Barnes Road connects a rural, uncontrolled and unmaintained area to new developments and the bustling, heavily used north-south Powers Boulevard (Colorado Highway 21).
The corridor previously limited safety and access for vehicles and pedestrians, as it lacked sidewalks, medians, bicycle lanes and other multimodal features. It also featured poorly developed roadside ditches and no formal drainage infrastructure. Some residents had to walk along the roadway’s shoulder to visit a grocery store or nearby business. Leading up to the intersection, the road was also very steep – further impacting safety, especially for people with disabilities.
The Barnes Road Improvements project, or “urban capital infill” as described by the City, sought to bring area roadways and utility infrastructure to a place where it would accommodate and empower the area’s rapid amount of development while improving access and safety for all types of users.
In need of a project team capable of navigating the wealth of challenges, the City selected SEH to provide preliminary and final design for the roadway improvements. Construction was led by Pyramid Construction, public information by Hayward LLC, and project management by AECOM.
Overall features and impact
The SEH team provided design for 0.3 miles of Barnes Road. The design added left-turn lanes, a median, bicycle lanes, curb and gutter, sidewalks and a signalized intersection to the heavily used Barnes Road/Powers Boulevard crossing. It also included a connection point for the multi-use Homestead Trail.
The project team improved pedestrian accessibility by designing a 10 ft. wide trail along the south side of the roadway and a detached sidewalk to the north side. The team also verified the existing storm drainage capacity for two 42 in. pipes along both sides of Barnes Road and larger pipes downstream of the project. In addition, the project design provided water quality detention within the project limits.
Design took place in 2019, construction began in 2020, and the project was officially completed August 2021. The Barnes Roadway Improvements has ensured that – as the City around the project area grows and new developments continue to arrive – the community can safely and efficiently accommodate vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and support access for new businesses and neighborhoods.
The SEH team coordinated with several developers along the project alignment to ensure all designed improvements were consistent with and would continue to empower future area developments.
Construction phasing to keep roadway open
The SEH project team designed a phased construction plan that would keep Barnes Road fully operational during construction, minimizing impacts to businesses along the corridor as well as the adjacent state highway (Powers Boulevard).
A closer look at the phased construction approach and timeline (approximate dates):
- Preparation – February-March 2020. Included shoulder work and outside lane closures on the south side of the project. Initial work included grading and earthwork to move overhead electric lines underground and relocate other electrical network components
- Phase 1 – March-May 2020. One lane of traffic remained open in each direction on the north side of the roadway to allow for work on the south side of the project zone.
- Phase 2A – June-July 2020. Traffic shifted to new lanes on the south side of the road for work on the north side of the roadway and median.
- Phase 2B – July-August 2020. One lane of traffic continued to flow in each direction on the southside of the road, except at the intersection of Barnes Road and Chaparral Road/Rio Vista Drive, where westbound Barnes Road was shifted to the north side of the road so crews could work in the middle of the intersection.
- Phase 3 – Late 2020. One lane of traffic flowed in each direction of Barnes Road while crews worked on the median.
- Phase 4/Completion – Summer 2021. Included constructing Barnes Road median; working on curb and gutter and pedestrian ramps; and installing streetlights to prepare for the final asphalt paving.
Creating a pedestrian-friendly environment
The newly designed sidewalks, bicycle lanes, medians and trail improvements transformed Barnes Road into an ADA-compliant, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly corridor. The project completed the connection between an open space and regional trail managed by the City, and lowered Barnes Road down (more below) to a commercially desirable destination for developers, businesses and residents.
Lowering the roadway to complete a signalized intersection
Barnes Road was previously very steep, with the 11% grade falling outside of City standards. As with many mountainous communities, transforming local roadways into pedestrian-friendly environments requires careful engineering to lower the roads and design around unavoidable issues.
To transform the rural intersection into a signalized intersection, the team lowered the roadway from 11% to 5% by “pushing it back into the hillside.” This required roadway cuts of over 12 ft. deep. This change better accommodates vehicles and especially pedestrian traffic. The intersection is now fully ADA compliant.
Water quality was also a top priority for the City. The project team added curb and gutter around the perimeter of the intersection as part of its transformation, including additional stormwater drainage infrastructure on each corner.
Moving overhead utilities underground
Barnes Road previously had high voltage transmission lines among other critical utilities that ran over the roadway. Completing the project required moving these utilities underground and working closely with utility companies to do so safely and strategically.
The project team coordinated with several communication companies to get fiber lines relocated and telephone lines lowered or repositioned. The team also worked closely with Colorado Springs Utilities to move the company’s high transmission, high pressure gas line and overhead electric underground.
Re-routing traffic from side to side as part of the SEH team’s phased construction approach allowed the team to navigate moving the utilities without closing Barnes Road to traffic.
Barnes Road Improvements
City of Colorado Springs, Colorado
City of Colorado Springs
- 0.3 miles of ADA-compliant road improvements
- Medians, sidewalks, turn lanes and stormwater infrastructure added to corridor
- Moved overhead utility lines underground
- Transformed rural intersection to signalized intersection
- New left-turn lanes added to intersection
- Road lowered from 11% to 5% grade at intersection
- Improved curb and gutter throughout corridor
- 4 new stormwater chambers provide water quality within project limits
- Construction phasing kept road operational
- Civil engineering
- Construction services
- Structural engineering
- Traffic engineering
- Water resources engineering