GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Grand Avenue Bridge project planners now agree with city officials that the long-sought Eighth Street connection would be a better detour route during the anticipated two-month full bridge closure in 2015 when the bridge is to be replaced.
Project officials and Glenwood Springs City Council are set to have a serious sit-down Thursday evening to discuss the latest developments regarding detour options as the project moves to within 15 months of reality.
Included on the agenda for the 5-7 p.m. work session Thursday is a proposal from bridge planners to help get things started on the Eighth Street connection, which the city has moved to the top of its capital improvements priority list for the coming year.
CDOT officials, after re-evaluating their original preference to use Midland Avenue all the way from Interstate 70 Exit 114 to 27th Street for a Highway 82 detour during the bridge closure period, indicated in a report to council that it agrees the Eighth Street connection is the better alternative.
“An evaluation of detour options showed that the best detour option is a new temporary detour using the Eighth Street connection as shown in the city’s Comprehensive Plan,” the project team states in its report.
For that to happen, CDOT proposes to remove the existing railroad tracks and construct a new, temporary two-lane roadway connecting the Eighth and Midland intersection and existing bridge across the Roaring Fork River with the dead-end section of Eighth Street just west of Glenwood Springs City Hall.
The work would also include a temporary signal at Eighth and Colorado by the Garfield County Courthouse, and what CDOT termed a temporary one-way “square-about” using a combination of Colorado, Ninth Street, Eighth Street and Grand Avenue to flow highway traffic through the downtown area during the detour period.
As for a permanent Eighth Street connection, the city would be responsible for upgrading the roadway to city street standards, and any other improvements spelled out in agreements with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
RFTA owns the Rio Grande right of way that runs through the proposed street extension area, as well as the side section of the railroad known as the “wye,” where the UP retains use rights.
CDOT reiterated in its report that the Grand Avenue Bridge project, which is still working its way through the planning stages, will require one major detour lasting “two months or less,” probably during the fall “shoulder season” in order to minimize traffic impacts. “Other minor, short-term detours” would also be necessary at times, the report said.
“This is based on strong preference from the public scoping process to do a short-term, full closure and avoid long-term partial (one-lane traffic) closures on the existing bridge,” according to the report.
The detour would also require a temporary redesign of the two existing roundabouts, as well as the exit and on-ramps at Exit 114, for traffic to get onto and off of I-70.
“Peak traffic during the bridge closure detour would be controlled by a uniformed traffic control officer to maximize traffic flow,” the report states.
Along Midland Avenue from I-70 to Eighth Street, “minimal physical improvements” would be needed. However, revised signal timing and possible transit/high occupancy vehicle lanes, as well as school crossing guards, may be needed.
Although Midland Avenue south of Eighth Street would not be used as a highway detour under the revised plan, it is likely to see a fair amount of increased traffic.
“The project team recognizes that, as a public street, a substantial portion of traffic will choose to use this route rather than the Eighth Street detour,” the report states. “This traffic is expected to be primarily cars and light trucks due to the existing truck restrictions.”
No changes to that portion of Midland are planned, other than the potential for a pavement overlay to accommodate the increased traffic, according to the report.
The regular City Council meeting will follow the CDOT work session, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight. On the agenda is a proposed resolution stating council’s support for the city fire and rural fire district tax questions that are on the Nov. 5 ballot.