GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Although construction on the new Grand Avenue bridge is still tentatively scheduled to start in 2015, a full closure necessitating a Highway 82 detour would not likely happen until fall 2016, project planners clarified in a meeting with city officials last week.
If a formal record of decision on the project’s federally required environmental assessment comes by July or August of 2014, construction could begin on the new pedestrian bridge by next fall, however.
That was the word from Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials who met with Glenwood Springs City Council in an Oct. 3 work session to update the bridge planning effort.
The project team also formally iterated its new preference to work with the city to build the Eighth Street connection for use as a detour route for up to a two-month period, rather than the original proposal use the section of Midland Avenue from Eighth to 27th Street.
“I just want to say thanks for taking that seriously,” City Councilman Todd Leahy said of CDOT agreeing to look at the Eighth Street option instead. “We appreciate that you took the time to focus on that, and I think this is something we can move forward on as a team to get done.”
Under the proposal, which will be further evaluated as part of the EA, CDOT would remove the existing railroad tracks on the old “wye” section of the rail line and build a two-lane road connecting the existing Eighth Street bridge to what’s now a dead-end upper section of Eighth Street west of Glenwood Springs City Hall.
For purposes of the detour, a temporary signal would be installed at Eighth and Colorado and a temporary one-way “square-about” established on Colorado, Ninth Street, Eighth Street and Grand Avenue in order to flow highway traffic through the downtown area during the detour period.
On the west end, the detour route would follow Midland Avenue from Interstate 70 Exit 114 to Eighth, requiring modifications to the roundabouts and interstate exit and on-ramps.
Leahy suggested that the city may still need to consider making some modifications to Midland south of Eighth, which is still likely to see an increase in traffic as a result of the bridge construction.
“I wouldn’t want to give up on any study that may be done to do improvements on Midland,” he said, adding the weight restriction should probably be lifted on that section anyway.
“It’s a viable option to help get any traffic through town, not only during this project, but any time,” Leahy said.
As for the pedestrian bridge, the city is being asked for its preference for providing the required ADA (handicapped) access on the south end of the bridge at Seventh Street. CDOT is willing to build either an elongated switch-backed ramp up to the main bridge, or install one or two elevators.
Some council members said at the Oct. 3 work session that they would prefer a ramp, especially since the city will be responsible for maintaining the structure once it is built.
Council is expected to take an official vote on the ramp versus elevator question at its Oct. 17 meeting.