Construction hours could be relaxed during bridge detour | PostIndependent.com

Construction hours could be relaxed during bridge detour

Traffic is often backed up from the Grand Avenue Bridge to the south end of Glenwood during the early evening rush-hour.

Construction hours, as well as other restrictions spelled out in the Glenwood Springs municipal code, may be temporarily suspended during the upcoming Grand Avenue bridge detour. That would help spread out peak-hour traffic and allow businesses to adjust for the anticipated traffic impacts. City Council on Thursday adopted a temporary ordinance authorizing City Manager Debra Figueroa to immediately suspend enforcement of portions of the code when circumstances warrant.

That can include restrictions on things such as parking on public streets, where businesses can place sidewalk signs or even opening a one-way street to two-way traffic for a limited period of time, City Attorney Karl Hanlon said.

"This is in response to what we know is going to be a very dynamic situation during the bridge detour," Hanlon said. "It could come up in a variety of areas, and there will be a necessity to do some things on the fly."

Although not specifically mentioned at the Thursday council meeting, one area city officials have talked about is in the hours contractors and individuals are allowed to do construction work.

"It is the intent to move them," Figueroa said Friday, though exactly how those hours may be adjusted is still being determined. "The code change also gives us the ability to move them again in case we get it wrong the first time."

Currently, the prohibited noises portion of the city code restricts construction activities to between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

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Individual projects can obtain an exemption through the permitting process. The Grand Avenue bridge project itself is allowed to proceed during nighttime hours.

The new code provision allows the city manager to adjust the blanket restrictions on construction hours, or simply suspend enforcement.

Doing away with the construction time limits is viewed as one way to encourage those commuting to job sites to avoid the detour route during the peak morning and evening commute times when the city and state transportation officials are trying to reduce normal traffic volumes by about 35 percent.

Starting Aug. 14, the Colorado 82/Grand Avenue bridge will be closed so that the final section of the new bridge can be completed. For 95 days, highway and local traffic will be diverted to a detour running from Interstate 70 Exit 114 onto Midland Avenue and the newly extended section of Eighth Street, then back onto Grand Avenue at Ninth.

Local governments situated farther upvalley on 82 have also looked at relaxing their construction hours.

"We want to make sure we're doing our part … and are looking at some creative ideas on our end to help out," Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron said during a May 11 Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board meeting.

In addition to allowing daily construction work within Aspen to start earlier and end later, the city will also offer seasonal affordable housing units that would otherwise be vacant to any employers who could use them during the detour period, Skadron said.

"We've also talked to the hotel community about offering favorable rates during that time," he said of what's typically a shoulder season for Aspen.

Officials in Carbondale, Basalt and Snowmass Village have had similar discussions.

The Glenwood Springs code provision requires that the city spell out the reasons for altering or suspending any portion of the city code. Figueroa must also brief City Council on any code suspensions at either a special meeting or the next regularly scheduled meeting.

At that time, council can either ratify the decision or change it back, Hanlon said. Council did not set an end date for lifting the code suspension ordinance, but does plan to do so after the new highway bridge is completed.

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