Bridge closed; 5-mile backups feared in afternoon
The Grand Avenue Bridge closed overnight, and the long-publicized detour through Glenwood Springs is in place. While delays should be expected in the morning, the afternoon rush has some familiar with the situation most concerned.
“We really won’t get a handle on [the afternoon rush] until we see those first couple of days,” Tom Newland, public information manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation, told the Post Independent. “We just don’t know how many people will find another plan and not drive.”
He said that backups will likely extend beyond the Red Canyon cutoff south of Glenwood, and may go all the way out to the Colorado Mountain College turnoff, 5 miles south of Glenwood.
In the morning, commuters heading into Glenwood Springs to go upvalley will use the downtown square-about, which will force drivers to head down Eighth Street to Colorado Avenue. Eighth Street from Grand to Colorado will become one-way westbound, Colorado from Eighth to Ninth will be one-way southbound, and Ninth from Colorado to Grand will be one-way eastbound. Southbound Grand Avenue traffic from Ninth Street will be two lanes at all times.
While northbound commuters will be able to get onto Eighth Street from Grand, northbound Grand Avenue will merge left into one lane on the south edge of town and continue in one lane to Eighth. The northbound right lane is reserved for emergency vehicles, buses, permitted van pools, and right turns off of Grand Avenue.
Mark Gould, owner of Gould Construction, believes that this may cause traffic to back up all the way by Carbondale.
“We believe that a lot of time has been spent figuring out how to get employees to work, but my concern is getting them home to their families,” he said.
In order to get his employees, many of whom live west of West Glenwood, to construction sites in Aspen each morning, three vans will be used to shuttle 11 employees. In order to avoid the traffic in the afternoon through Glenwood Springs, however, employees will use e-bikes from Carbondale to get them to Two Rivers Park, where they will be picked up and taken west.
He said that most of the planning that he’s done with employees has been based on the afternoon rush because “worst case is that we get up an hour earlier in the morning.”
His main concern is that his employees will have to spend evenings sitting in traffic.
“They didn’t sign up for two hours of traffic in Glenwood Springs every night,” he said.
Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said that the city had issued 99 van pool permits as of Thursday. He believes as much attention has been paid to the afternoon rush as the morning, and thinks the afternoon rush will be a little bit easier because commuters won’t have to deal with the square-about.
He added that northbound traffic becoming one lane will “definitely back it up, but to what degree we will have to wait and see.”
He said that the vast majority of the van pool permits are newly in place, which should help to take a bite out of commuter traffic.
Businesses still interested in getting van pool permits can go to the Glenwood Springs Department Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. More information is available online at http://bit.ly/2wCs2Y6.
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