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Bridge planners taking it to the street

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Those wanting more of a visual image of a new, wider, taller Grand Avenue/Highway 82 bridge coming into downtown Glenwood will get their wish next week.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials will be taking the various bridge width and height options to the street, literally, using “story poles” that will be attached to the existing bridge.

Two separate public sessions, at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, at the Seventh Street “wing” street will allow people to gather, observe, comment and ask questions, said Joe Elsen, CDOT’s program engineer on the Grand Avenue Bridge project.



“It’s vital to be able to show, on the bridge itself, how a new bridge would look from different angles,” Elsen said. “It’s a way to give people a real 3D feel for it.”

Story poles are commonly used in the construction business before a project is built, to show building corners and heights and how that new structure would impact views from different vantage points.



“By doing this, we can show several different alternatives for the bridge footprint,” Elsen said.

The wing street, which connects Grand Avenue to Seventh Street, will be closed during the midday event next Thursday.

Three potential bridge widths will be portrayed, along with the basic footprint and new bridge height, Elsen said.

Options include keeping a southbound left turn lane coming off the bridge onto Eighth Street, with a separate, switchback-style pedestrian ramp structure along Seventh Street that would access a new pedestrian bridge across the Colorado River.

If the left turn off Grand at Eighth is eliminated, a new pedestrian ramp connection would likely be attached to the bridge.

Elimination of the left turn onto Eighth, as well as the traffic signal at that intersection, has been recommended as part of the separate Grand Avenue/Highway 82 access control plan.

Glenwood Springs City Council is expected to make a decision this spring, possibly as early as March 21, whether to accept the long-term recommendations in the access control plan.

If adopted, the new bridge, which is targeted for construction in 2015, would trigger the access changes at Eighth Street.

The new bridge itself is proposed to follow a new alignment from Grand Avenue on the south, curving west across the river and Interstate 70 to a newly configured intersection at Sixth and Laurel streets.

The new bridge is in line to receive $59 million in Colorado Bridge Enterprise funds, which are designated for repairs and replacement of deficient bridges in the state.

CDOT and federal transportation officials are currently conducting a formal environmental analysis for the project, which will include a draft decision, public comment period and public hearing by the end of this year, Elsen said.

Final engineering and design would take place during 2014, followed by construction the next year.

Project officials have also issued a new question-and-answer sheet responding to some of the more recent questions around the bridge’s potential impact on downtown. Another new “frequently asked questions” document addresses a potential Highway 82 bypass study.

Both documents can be found on CDOT’s Grand Avenue Bridge website page, at http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge, under the “quick links” section.

“Certainly, there are a lot of concerns out there, and we are trying to do everything we can to answer questions and get as much information out to the public as possible,” Elsen said.

Project officials are also still working to produce a physical model of the proposed bridge, to be on display at a future public meeting to be announced, he said.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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