Access, traffic backups top worries with 8th Street work
Access to neighborhood side streets and hassles associated with cross-town commutes topped the list of concerns at a public meeting Thursday that was called to address issues around construction of the Eighth Street connection that started this week.
Work began Tuesday by Colorado Department of Transportation contractors to clear trees and other vegetation, making way for a new section of road west of Glenwood Springs City Hall that will directly connect Grand Avenue to Midland Avenue.
The new route is to be used as a detour for Colorado 82 and Grand Avenue traffic from August to December 2017 when the final segment of the new Grand Avenue bridge is being built, but will be available in the meantime in an attempt to ease traffic congestion coming in and out of downtown.
Once the new Grand Avenue bridge is completed, the city has plans to make the Eighth Street link a permanent connection, built to city street standards.
During the Eighth Street work, there will be a 10-day closure of the existing Eighth Street bridge over the Roaring Fork River, starting Oct. 8, while the bridge deck is being replaced and the new street is paved.
That period of time, as well as the looming 95-day Colorado 82 detour period next year, is worrisome for Rick Davis, who lives on Riverview Drive just off Midland Avenue.
“We’re already seeing the impacts with all the construction,” he said. “And so far, nothing has been done, no mitigation to protect these neighborhoods.”
Residents of the area know to drive slowly and be respectful of their neighbors, Davis said. “Commuters, not so much,” he said of those trying to avoid Grand Avenue and get through town quickly.
During the more immediate Eighth Street bridge closure, motorists traveling from west Glenwood to downtown or through town are asked to use U.S. 6 or stay on Interstate 70 to Exit 116. Electronic message signs will also urge people to stay on I-70 to the main exit, instead of taking Midland.
Only those living along Midland Avenue, headed to school or doing business in the area should be using Midland between Eighth and 27th streets to access Colorado 82 and Grand Avenue.
Also among the 25 or so people gathered for the informational meeting at the Glenwood Springs Library Thursday was west Glenwood resident Jennifer Smith. She said she plans to ride her bike to her downtown law office at 10th and Cooper, but wondered about traffic backups on the days she needs to drive.
In particular, the intersection of Sixth and Laurel coming from west Glenwood can have long waits during the morning commute time.
CDOT project officials suggested anyone coming from that part of town take I-70 to Exit 116. However, a longer traffic signal for eastbound motorists on Sixth will also be explored.
During the Eighth Street bridge closure, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses will also be impacted. Buses will travel across the Grand Avenue bridge and through west Glenwood to the Glenwood Community Center before turning around. Bus stops on Seventh and Ninth streets will not be active during the 10-day closure.
Cowdin Drive on the west side of the Eighth Street bridge will remain open during the bridge closure. Residents, however, were more concerned about access onto Eighth during backups at the Midland Avenue traffic light once the new street connection is open.
Blocking access from a side street is illegal, and the area may get signs stating that fact.
Also during the Eighth Street work, pedestrian and driveway access in the area will remain open, as will access onto the Park Driveway to Glenwood Springs Elementary School that is used by school buses.
However, Park Driveway will be closed to parent drop-offs while it is being paved, said Kathleen Wanatowicz, public information manager for the Grand Avenue bridge project.
Flagging operations will also be ongoing during the street construction, and pedestrians may be rerouted at times onto the Rio Grande Trail to the tunnel link back through the old sewer plant property to Seventh Street, she said.
Some weekend work will also be needed, but no night work is planned, she said.
Improvements at the intersection of Eighth and Midland will include a new, dedicated right turn lane from Eighth to Midland. Concerns about maintaining adequate turn radiuses were also addressed at the Thursday meeting.
Originally, the street connection was to have been done next summer just before the detour went into effect. But CDOT decided to move up the schedule as a way to ease congestion in the downtown area.
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