GAPP moving at high speed
GAPP is going great guns.The Grand Avenue Paving Project is three weeks ahead of schedule, thanks in part to better-than-expected weather. At this rate, it’s possible the project could be finished by the end of April, almost a month earlier than planned, said Tom Newland, the project’s public information manager.”The crews really turned it up a notch,” Newland said.Concrete Works of Colorado is scheduled to pour the new pavement on the west side of Grand, from 10th Street north past the Ninth Street intersection, on Saturday. The plan is to then switch over traffic Friday, March 18, for the last phase of the project. That phase wasn’t scheduled to start until April 8. It will center on the Eighth Street intersection and about 200 feet onto the Grand Avenue bridge.Last fall, Concrete Works completed 70 percent of the project, though it only was supposed to have done 30 percent then. That work took place farther south on Grand.Newland said the timeline for the current work was based on a worst-case scenario that assumed some storms would delay things. But crews ended up facing only a day or two of bad weather.Concrete Works also helped speed things along. The day the company was scheduled to pour the northbound lanes, the cement supplier was having trouble getting enough trucks to deliver what would be needed because of all the other concrete jobs going on in the area. So Concrete Works rounded up more trucks so it could complete the pouring in a day. That turned out to be a good thing, because it stormed the next day, Newland said.”That just gives you an indication of how Concrete Works of Colorado operates. They really try to get things done as quickly as possible,” he said.The company also can pour concrete faster because it doesn’t have to build concrete forms. Instead, it uses a long slip form machine, pouring continuously at a rate of about three feet a minute into a moving form. But that depends on having enough cement, and of the right kind, Newland said.”There’s a lot of factors involved in making that work. Concrete Works has definitely got it down to a fine art,” he said.Even with the rapid pace of work, the Colorado Department of Transportation considered delaying the final phase of the project until after spring break because some downtown businesses rely heavily on tourism then. But Newland said that for other businesses, spring break is less of a factor.”I think what will satisfy the most people is if we get out of here as quickly as possible,” he said.Sooner is better for Colorado Canoe & Kayak at 910 Grand Ave., co-owner Annie Hoghaug said. This is the slow season there, so the impact has been minimal up to now.”If they could be done by the time the ski slopes close, that’s what would help us out,” she said.”It seems like it’s going fast. They’re all over it out there.”Dan Kellogg, co-owner of X-Drop LLC, agreed.”It seems like it’s been moving along pretty quick,” he said.X-Drop sells things for people on eBay, and sublets space in Hoghaug’s store. Kellogg said he’s seeing a fair amount of impact on people who normally would drop off bigger items by driving up to the front of the store. X-Drop has been offering pickup service to customers who are having trouble with parking because of GAPP.Some customers also don’t seem to be aware that parking is available in back. For some reason – maybe because X-Drop is subletting space – it isn’t included in signs put up during construction to help point customers to businesses, Kellogg said.X-Drop had been planning to relocate to Cooper Avenue for reasons unrelated to GAPP, but because of the project has decided to move a few weeks earlier than scheduled.”We were kind of hoping we were going to miss the whole project, but that’s the way it goes,” he said. “It slowed us down a little bit, but we were able to pull through.”He said he’s glad to see Grand Avenue “getting all fixed up.”Travis Lucero, a manager at Roaring Fork Music at 912 Grand Ave., said that for whatever reason, Saturdays have been busier there than normal.He’s happy to see work continue on through spring break. Roaring Fork Music isn’t that tourist-oriented. When school is out, it sees more traffic from students needing instruments repaired, he said.”If people need to get their horns worked on they’ve got to come to us one way or the other,” Lucero said.He praised the job Concrete Works is doing, and said motorists seem to be adjusting to the disruption.”It seems like the whole town is figuring it out – just leave five minutes earlier and get there on time,” he said.Newland said traffic seems to be flowing more smoothly than when this year’s GAPP work began. At first cars backed up as far as Interstate 70, but officials lengthened the green light on Grand at Eighth and improved traffic flow.Morning backups have been hard to predict – significant on some days, nonexistent on others, Newland said. When evening traffic backs up, motorists seem to adjust by finding alternate routes, he said.Traffic congestion could be even worse when work shifts to the south end of the bridge. CDOT hopes to minimize that by sequencing the lights on Ninth through 11th streets so they are green all at the same time, and for longer periods for Grand Avenue motorists.Also, the threat of backups reaching I-70 will be reduced somewhat because the Eighth Street light won’t be operating. As a result, cars can travel another block to Ninth before stopping, Newland said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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