CDOT suspends I-70 chip seal
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A chip-seal project was suspended Tuesday after westbound commuters experienced delays of as long as an hour Monday afternoon. Colorado Department of Transportation officials apologized for the delays caused by the project in an open letter. (See page 17.)According to CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks, the traffic slowdowns were caused by a chip-seal project on the right side of the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 between Glenwood Springs and Canyon Creek.”That was a mistake that was made,” Shanks said Tuesday.The letter, signed by CDOT Region 3 transportation director Owen Leonard and maintenance supervisor Weldon Allen, apologized to motorists who became snared in the traffic jam. “While this chip-seal operation is necessary prior to the freeze-thaw cycles of winter and spring weather, it sometimes can cause tremendous inconveniences for the growing number of commuters and tourists along the I-70 corridor – our first mistake was misjudging the impacts on these traffic volumes,” the letter said. The project, which closed the right lane of westbound I-70, caused delays for people accessing both the 114 and 116 westbound interchanges in Glenwood Springs. This, in turn, caused traffic to back up along West Midland Avenue, Highway 6 & 24 in Glenwood Springs and on I-70 itself. “It was terrible,” said Cheryl Latraverse, who was slowed down as she headed from Glenwood Springs to her home in Rifle. “It just bottled up at both exits.”Latraverse said most of the delay was in the Glenwood Springs area itself. “Once I got past the West Glenwood exit, about halfway through the canyon, it loosened up,” she said. Shanks said the remainder of the project was suspended by CDOT officials Tuesday “for further evaluation.”Shanks said a three-mile stretch of I-70 was completed Monday and most of the delays happened while the pavement was curing. “The pavement didn’t cure as quickly as we anticipated,” she said. “Along came rush hour and we had to make a decision on whether to let cars drive on it and get tarred and chipped windows. They just didn’t anticipate such a backup.”The right lane of eastbound I-70 was slated to be next and a fog coating was planned for next week, but Shanks said those elements of the project will be put off indefinitely. Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson said the delays resulted in frustrated drivers and crashes at the intersection of 9th Street and Grand Avenue and at the top of the 114 West Glenwood interchange on I-70. “I just hope this wasn’t a preview of next summer,” Wilson said, referring to the Grand Avenue Paving Project, or GAPP, planned for the summer of 2004.Shanks said CDOT officials will look at alternative scheduling to complete the chip seal project on I-70, such as doing construction at night or even waiting until the fall off-season. Bus drivers and riders were not immune to the delays. Roaring Fork Transportation Authority operations manager Kent Blackmer said buses running through Glenwood Springs were delayed by as much as an hour. Quoting from bus driver logs, Blackmer said the delays were first reported at 4:30 p.m. Monday and those delays weren’t cleared up until 9 p.m. “We got hammered yesterday,” Blackmer said Tuesday. “Fortunately we have a lot of experience in this. Generally, in two or three hours we can get things back online.”Along with I-70, Shanks said planned work on Highway 82 has also been suspended. “The highway does need to be resurfaced,” Shanks said. “We’ll just evaluate it and figure out what procedure to use and when.”Contact Greg Mass: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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