Contractor faces $25K/day penalty if Grand Ave. bridge reopens late; reward for early finish | PostIndependent.com

Contractor faces $25K/day penalty if Grand Ave. bridge reopens late; reward for early finish

Workers on the Grand Avenue bridge project are busy laying the brick facade on the far north end of the bridge, near the intersection of Sixth and Laurel.

The Grand Avenue bridge construction contractor has a pretty good incentive to get the new bridge open before a 95-day period that commences on Aug. 14 is up, and every reason not to go beyond that time.

Built into the contract after the $125 million project was awarded to the joint venture of Granite/RL Wadsworth was a bonus of $25,000 per day for up to 10 days if the bridge can be opened to one lane of traffic in each direction before the end of those 95 calendar days.

Conversely, the contractor faces what amounts to a $25,000 penalty per day for going beyond that time, Tom Newland, project public information manager, explained.

"So, if they come in 10 days ahead of schedule, they get $250,000," he said. "The disincentive comes in the form of what's called a lane rental fee, where the contractor is basically renting the lanes on the bridge while they're still doing work."

The point being is that Glenwood Springs residents and the traveling public should know that everything humanly possible will be done to get the bridge open to traffic by Nov. 17 and bring an end to the Grand Avenue/Colorado 82 detour that will be in place starting Aug. 14, Newland said.

Normal day-to-day construction on the bridge usually involves anywhere from 20-40 workers with the general contractor, and upwards of 150 people at any given time when including subcontractors, he said.

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As with any contract, there are, of course, some exceptions, he added.

In working out the details, both the Colorado Department of Transportation and Granite/Wadsworth outlined the risks that could prevent the contractor from meeting that time schedule.

For example, if CDOT were unable to secure a permit on time or cause some other delay in the process that prevents work from being done, each day lost would be credited to the contractor, Newland said.

Unforeseen circumstances, such as a significant weather delay or natural disaster, would buy the contractor extra time as well, he said.

"If you have a day where there are a lot of lightning storms, or maybe there's a flash flood or something that prevents the contractor from being able to work, that doesn't count in the 95 days," Newland said. "But it has to be something where the contractor is totally unable to work."

It that ends up being the case, it is possible the bridge closure and detour could be in place for more than 95 days. All attempts will be made to avoid that, he said.

Completing the final segment of the new bridge and getting it open to at least two lanes of traffic will be crucial ahead of the busy ski season that usually starts in Aspen/Snowmass around Thanksgiving.

Once the bridge is open, project officials expect at least another month before the other two lanes will be open, meaning backups during peak traffic times are likely to continue through December.

Meanwhile, for the near term, work continues to get the new elevator access to the pedestrian bridge, at what's now officially called the "7th Street Station," in working order ahead of the vehicle bridge closure. The elevator will provide disability access to and from the south end of the pedestrian bridge.

Other deadlines included in the contract will be to remove the causeways that were built into the Colorado River before the spring runoff hits next year, with completion of all the fine details scheduled to be done by June 30, 2018.

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