CDOT demolishes “eyesore” motel building

The Express Inn at U.S. Highway 24 and Eighth Street has been deteriorating since it closed in 2011. Now, CDOT crews have begun to demolish the building. FOX21 - Kurt Story

Locked away behind a security fence, with its windows and remaining doors boarded up, the Express Inn at U.S. Highway 24 and Eighth Street has been deteriorating since it closed in 2011.

The building was once used by a nonprofit as low-income housing for homeless community members or those living paycheck to paycheck. Since it closed, it’s been sitting vacant save for a few homeless people continuing to stay.

“Certainly this has been an eyesore, for both the west side and downtown,” Sallie Clark, El Paso County Commissioner, said. “It’s not a very welcoming structure for people who are either tourists coming to our community, or for those that travel this corridor every day.”

After falling into foreclosure, the motel building was purchased by CDOT who began to demolish it Monday, not only for health and safety reasons, but to make way for future construction on roads around the site.

Once utilities were relocated and the asbestos in the building was removed, local leaders were happy to see the “eyesore” come down.

“It got to the place where it was a safety hazard, so we needed to take it down and get rid of it,” Keith King, Colorado Springs City Council President, said.

The demolition will take time. They’re pulling the building apart gently to avoid disturbing any additional asbestos or adding too much dust to the air.

As for the future, this site will likely become a staging area for construction on I-25 nearby. CDOT Resident Engineer Dave Watt said the demolition isn’t the official start of the I-25/Cimarron Interchange project.

“But, it does prepare the site to likely be used as an equipment staging area once the interchange reconstruction begins in the spring,” he said.

A big part of the planned I-25/Cimarron Project is straightening out the troublesome curve in the interstate just north of downtown. Watt said the roadway will be re-aligned, moving I-25 75 feet west to straighten the curvy portion of the road. They will also be redesigning the interchange to accommodate the growing city.

“[I-25] was built in 1959 and was adequate for those traffic volumes then, but we’re trying to take this thing into the future and treat this like the gateway it is to downtown and the west side communities,” Watt said.

That project is expected to be complete in 2017.
 As for potential construction at the intersection of Eighth Street and Highway 24, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments said that project is a long way away. However, they said, this is certainly a step in the right direction for the planning process.

“It’s going to be a construction zone for a while, but that’s okay because at least we’re seeing this project move along,” Clark said.

The contractor has created a fenced work zone area where demolition will continue to occur for up to a month. For safety reasons, the public is asked to stay clear of the work zone throughout the demolition process.

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