No, really, the Vine Drive train overpass will finally be completed this year

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After various fits and starts on the $24 million train overpass near Lemay Avenue and Vine Drive, Fort Collins will once again start construction on the long-awaited project.

The city started building the overpass embankments on both sides of Vine Drive in 2018. Then the project stalled. Last year, the city had planned to build the overpass foundation, rock walls, bridge abutments and utility work.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and many street projects were delayed or halted.

Final funding for the project was approved by City Council in November 2020. That allows for completion of the project, which is expected to substantially be done by the end of this year.

“It’s been a long time coming but it absolutely feels fantastic to say it really is going to be done this year,”  said Brad Buckman, the city’s interim city engineer.

On Wednesday, work resumed when a section of Buckingham Street between Lemay Avenue/Ninth Street and 10th Street temporarily closed, along with a connector street between 10th and Duff Drive.

The closure will continue for the remainder of the project and will allow for a construction staging area, according to the city.

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Access to homes will be maintained at all times, and construction parking will not be allowed within the Andersonville neighborhood.

Much of the work will occur in the right of way, but drivers should be prepared for changing traffic patterns over the course of the year.

The project will build the city’s first train overpass in a location where the BNSF train tracks have created long backups due to the nearby switching yard.

It will include realigning 1.5 miles of Lemay Avenue, which when complete will veer east of the existing road north of Lincoln Avenue between The Cottages of Fort Collins apartment complex and Buckingham Road. It will then head north via the new overpass over Vine Drive and continue until reconnecting with the existing Lemay Avenue just south of Conifer Street.

Existing sections of Lemay Avenue and Vine Drive will become local streets upon completion of the project, which is being managed by Ames Construction.

For more information about the project, visit fcgov.com/engineering/vine-lemay.

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More Lemay Avenue construction

Lemay Avenue is set for a busy construction season, which means drivers may want to avoid the street, which will see partial and full closures extending into fall.

Nicole Hahn, interim city traffic engineer, said it’s a lot of projects at once but the decision was made to coordinate those projects to make the work the most efficient.

“The end goal is to minimize the impacts to the public, but we know this is going to be very impactful,” Hahn said. “It’s probably fair to say that this will be the most impactful project we have this year in our community.”

The street was originally set to close between Drake and Columbia roads on March 13. But a snowfall that dropped about 20 inches pushed the closure date to Thursday through Monday.

The closure will allow crews to install large stormwater lines.

A new pedestrian/bicycle crossing at Columbia Road/Parkwood Drive and Lemay Avenue will also impact the area into May at which time it is expected the new crossing will be active, Hahn said.

Crews also have begun preparing to repair and pave Lemay Avenue from Riverside Avenue to Horsetooth Road, about 2.7 miles

Work on stormwater and water lines will continue to take place during this time along Lemay Avenue. Also, a replacement of a water line and repaving of Brookwood Drive from Parkwood to Stuart Street is planned for late summer through early fall.

Hahn said accesses to residences impacted will be maintained but that commuters should plan to use alternative routes.

Fore more information on the projects, visit https://www.fcgov.com/engineering/lemay2021 

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Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at milesblumhardt@coloradoan.com or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.