Mulberry bridge to get $12 million upgrade

The Colorado Department of Transportation will spend $12 million in the coming months to raise a bridge near Mulberry Street and Lemay Avenue to accommodate floodplain clearances.

The bridge will also be widened to include a bike lane and sidewalks.

The work is part of CDOT’s Bridge Enterprise Project, which every year funds the improvements of bridges across the state.

The work will take place on Mulberry Street between Lemay and Riverside avenues where Mulberry crosses the Poudre River. The bridge is about one-third of a mile long, according to Rich Christy, CDOT project manager for the bridge upgrade.

The bridge was first built in 1949 and has been deemed “structurally deficient,” according to Christy.

The work will be completed in two stages, Christy said, with crews doing the majority of the work during the winter months while the river is low. The project will begin in the fall of 2013 and continue for 18 months.

Traffic will be impacted during construction, but CDOT worked closely with the City of Fort Collins to come up with the least-disruptive solution. The westbound lanes of Mulberry will remain open, Christy said, but the eastbound lanes will have to be closed.

While the bulk of the money and labor for the project will be CDOT’s responsibility, the City of Fort Collins will also play a small role in the bridge’s upgrade.

In the 2013-2014 budget, the city appropriated $750,000 over two years for “urban design and landscaping enhancements.” The city is still working to decide exactly what those enhancements might entail, according to Rick Richter, director of infrastructure services for the city.

Richter said that elements like landscaping, art or upgraded rails are some of the options that may be included.

This would not be the first time that the City of Fort Collins partnered with CDOT to enhance an infrastructure project.

The same kind of arrangement, along with the Town of Windsor, is what led to the brickwork used on the newly-renovated Highway 392 interchange in Windsor, according to Christy.

Adding these elements can help make infrastructure improvements function as gateways, Christy said. The location of the Mulberry bridge project suggests that any additional features the city uses for the bridge would turn it into a gateway to the downtown area.

That particular part of town may be seeing an increase in traffic in the not-so-distant future. The project is located just down Lemay Avenue from the Link-N-Greens golf course, the site where Woodward Inc. has proposed building a new headquarters and other commercial buildings.