Your guide to the bridge closure | PostIndependent.com

Your guide to the bridge closure

Monday morning, everyone who travels through or within Glenwood Springs faces the new reality that's been looming for years — navigating this narrow town without the Grand Avenue bridge.

With up to 1,800 vehicles per hour traveling through town before the bridge closure, even if we achieve the Colorado Department of Transportation's goal of a 35 percent traffic reduction, things will be slow and challenging.

The Post Independent will do its best to be a real-time resource through the 95-day closure. You are invited to participate in our coverage with your observations, experiences and ideas.

Here's our initial plan:

At 12:01 a.m. Monday, the home page of our website, postindependent.com, will change in appearance to a special presentation on the bridge and detour.

It will be rich with resources, including an interactive version of the map that appears on this page, enabling you to plot parking and bicycle routes. It will include frequently asked questions and tips in English and Spanish, along with our latest coverage. A feed from Garfield County webcams overlooking Interstate 70 in West Glenwood will be included.

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At 5 a.m., when CDOT will staff its command center in anticipation of the morning rush, we will begin live online coverage of the first of 95 scheduled days of the bridge closure. We will have a reporter on the ground in the CDOT office. Our photographer will be on her bicycle. Our sports editor will even have a GoPro strapped to his dashboard as he navigates the detour to get to his second job. We are ready to provide you the best live coverage, and we also invite you to participate.

You can email observations and photos to our engagement editor, Sallee Ann Ruibal, sruibal@postindependent.com, or tweet with the hashtag #GABdetour. As always, our Facebook messages are open for your tips and photos, too. Of course, don't use your phone while driving, but if you are a passenger, if you are stalled in traffic or you've arrived at your destination, we are eager to understand your experience and share it with others so they may better plan their travels.

Our live coverage will continue through the morning rush and then resume in the afternoon as downvalley traffic increases.

The goal is both to document how the first day goes and to provide a resource for planning as the community sees how this plays out.

Monday will be a learning experience for everyone in town or who passes through.

We all hope that enough people change their habits to reduce traffic and delays; we all hope that everyone stays calm and polite; we all hope there are no serious accidents or breakdowns that clog the detour.

Here are some key reminders:

Interstate 70 traffic from the west that intends to follow the detour will exit at mile marker 114 in West Glenwood. Signs and lane barriers will be in place several miles west of the exit. Please get in line; please do not continue in the left lane and plan to cut in closer to the exit. You are not special.

The real public health danger here is that people who think they are more important than their fellow motorists will clog the left lane, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to get through should they need to. As Valley View emergency physician Ben Peery wrote in a guest opinion Wednesday, a few minutes of delay could cost someone their life.

Exit 116, the downtown Glenwood exit, will remain open. The area north of the old bridge will be a transit center, where shuttles from public parking at the Glenwood Springs Mall will drop people off so they can walk across the pedestrian bridge. In the realm of doing our part, since we are preaching about getting vehicles off the road, PI employees who live north of the river will use this option whenever possible, plus some bicycle and telecommuting.

Exit 116 can be used to access Glenwood Hot Springs, Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Caverns and West Glenwood.

If you get off the interstate at Exit 114 or travel on U.S. 6 to West Glenwood, we urge patience and politeness at the West Glenwood roundabouts, which will be chokepoints and which already have been the scene of frayed nerves and modest road rage.

We will all need to keep our cool and do our part.

The next three months will be a challenge.

It's important to remember that we are in it together.

It's important to remember that local merchants could use a boost.

It's critical that we all follow the signs and rules and keep lanes clear for emergency vehicles.

And maybe keep our sense of humor, showing off that small-town friendliness and smile.

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