Glenwood braces for Eighth Street bridge impacts as detour work begins
Plans to move forward with the Eighth Street detour connection and replacement of the Roaring Fork River bridge deck next month will result in traffic impacts on the bridge, including a possible full traffic closure for an undetermined period of time.
It is possible to keep the bridge open to one lane of alternating or direction-specific traffic and complete the work in about six weeks, city of Glenwood Springs Engineer Terri Partch reported to City Council members during a Thursday work session.
But some city and Grand Avenue bridge project officials may just as soon close the link between downtown and Midland Avenue for a shorter stretch of time in order to get the work done quicker.
“The contractor would prefer to close the area and have all truck traffic diverted onto Grand Avenue during that time,” Partch said.
Colorado Department of Transportation contractors working on the Grand Avenue bridge project indicated they need a six-week window in which to cut the street connection from where Eighth Street now ends west of City Hall to where it intersects with Seventh Street. The bridge work is to be done concurrently, Partch said.
The street connection will serve as part of the detour route to and from Interstate 70 Exit 114 when the existing Grand Avenue bridge is removed to make way for the new bridge in August 2017.
Work on the street connection and Eighth Street bridge is slated to begin after Labor Day. The option is to run one lane of traffic, but that could mean up to six weeks of work. A full closure could shorten the work to less than three weeks, bridge project spokesman Tom Newland said.
“This project is definitely on the contractor’s front burner now, and it could happen as early as the week after Labor Day,” Newland said.
The danger with stretching the project out over multiple weeks is that asphalt paving of the street connection has to take place before it gets too cold outside, he said.
“Ideally, we want to get this done in September,” Newland said.
CDOT had originally hoped to complete the project before school starts next week. But delays getting the environmental assessment revisions done set the work schedule back, he said.
City Council members expressed concerns that the potential Eighth Street bridge closure comes as the busy morning and afternoon school rush starts. Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said a full bridge closure would also impact emergency response times.
“I can tell you it will be unacceptable to have that bridge closed for six weeks,” Mayor Mike Gamba said of the potential that the project could suffer from delays.
Even if traffic lanes have to be closed, Gamba said he wants the contractors to keep a pedestrian path open across the bridge. Night work could also help shorten the construction period, he said.
“If it can be three weeks and they’re done, great,” Gamba said.
Council member Steve Davis added that there will need to be adequate signage to forewarn motorists of the Eighth Street work so they can consider other options.
Two other city projects intended to ease traffic congestion and provide pedestrian options also are delayed until next spring.
Partch said engineering issues related to placing the old Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge across the Roaring Fork River between Midland Avenue and 14th Street have postponed that project.
Similar engineering hurdles and the city’s heavy project load will also mean the planned mini-roundabout at 27th Street and South Grand Avenue will have to wait until spring. That project is intended to ease traffic congestion on the 27th Street bridge and south on Midland Avenue during the morning school rush.