Bridge construction shouldn’t stop tourism
August 26, 2017
With a holiday weekend approaching, Glenwood Springs expects more visitors despite Grand Avenue bridge construction.
Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for Glenwood Springs, said construction isn't that unexpected for visitors.
"We have not mentioned construction in any messaging," Langer said. "What we know that is a fact is that people who are traveling expect construction when there's good weather, no matter who you are or where you come from."
The biggest misconception the Grand Avenue bridge project is fighting is people thinking Interstate 70 is closed.
"There's a huge misconception about I-70. We have fielded, not kidding, over 100 phone calls from people thinking I-70 is closed," said Kathleen Wanatowicz, public information manager for the project. "There is some major malfunction with Google Maps directing people to Leadville or other weird routes. We are spinning our wheels trying to get that changed."
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Visitors staying in lodging in south Glenwood and Glenwood Meadows — and continuing upvalley to Aspen — must go through the Midland Avenue detour. This means exiting I-70 at Exit 114, the exit for West Glenwood.
Even if visitors take the detour, they can still avoid a lot of the detour, Wanatowicz said.
"If you are a traveling person visiting the Roaring Fork Valley, you essentially can miss the entire detour if you travel outside of the peak hours," she said, advising visitors to enter town after 10 a.m. and not leave in the afternoon. "It's a little out of the way, but you won't be bumper to bumper in the detour route."
If visitors are staying at lodging north of the bridge site, they should get off I-70 at the usual Glenwood Springs Exit 116. If coming from the west and staying at one of the northern hotels, visitors are encouraged to use the left lane on I-70 as those exiting at 114 are encouraged to move into the right lane early.
Once in Glenwood Springs, Langer says getting around is "no big deal."
"Park your car. Walk, ride your bike, take the bus," she said. "Glenwood Springs is a very walkable, bike-friendly community."
Places to rent a bike include Canyon Bikes (inside Hotel Colorado, 319 Sixth St.), Glenwood Adventure Company (723 Cooper Ave.) and Sunlight Ski and Bike Shop (309 Ninth St.).
Visitors can also take advantage of RFTA bus services being free of charge within the city (up to the 27th Street station) thanks to the detour.
Langer said she took the RFTA bus from Amtrak to 27th Street last week when she met three sisters who live spread out across the country and chose to spend a weekend in Glenwood — not knowing it was the first week of construction.
"The ladies were going to try to catch a taxi, but the bus driver said 'Why don't you hop on and I'll help you get where you need to go.' So it's really great seeing them help folks," she said.
Visitors staying at hotels on the north side of the bridge are within walking distance of popular attractions such as the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, Hot Springs Pool and Iron Mountain Hot Springs. Glenwood Canyon and its many hiking trails, such as Hanging Lake, are accessible without having to go through the detour.
For those staying south of the bridge, the pedestrian bridge connects Glenwood Springs shopping and restaurants — and provides a great viewing spot of workers building the city's new grand entrance.
Glenwood Springs residents can also be tourists in their own city, Wanatowicz said.
"It is critical that people come downtown. We are really hurting, a lot of businesses are really hurting," she said. Wanatowicz added that there's a misconception that the city is congested with traffic and little parking.
"There's so much free parking. If you go to Aspen its like 20, 25 bucks to park," she said, noting free parking along Seventh Street and in lots close to the detour route.
For a full map of parking, driving and bus routes, go to http://www.postindependent.com/news/grand-avenue-bridge-detour-maps/