Glenwood Springs looking to bridge funding gap for 27th Street Bridge |

Glenwood Springs looking to bridge funding gap for 27th Street Bridge

Cars cross the existing 27th Street Bridge, which is in the process of being replaced.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

After a conventional bid process for an anything-but-ordinary construction project, Glenwood Springs’ engineering department has identified its desired 27th Street Bridge construction contract bidder. Thursday night, council must act or potentially risk losing millions in grant funding.

The structure bridges the gap between Grand and Midland avenues over the Roaring Fork River. Commonly referred to as the Sunlight Bridge, according to a city staff report, the span in its current state earned a 10.5 out of 100 rating from state inspectors, due mostly to functionality issues similar to the former Grand Avenue Bridge that was replaced last year.

But, the cost to replace the bridge now appears to be more than $1.5 million over an engineering estimate offered earlier this summer. And, the city may risk losing $2.6 million in grant funding if the project gets put on hold.

However, the chances of that seem unlikely as councilors at their Aug. 2 meeting signed off on a contract not to exceed $1.25 million to hire a project manager, HDR Inc. out of Denver.

Some council members had a difficult time grasping even that number.

“I’m blown away by the number … compared to the total cost of the project,” Councilman Steve Davis stated at that meeting. It was a sentiment Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba also shared, stating, “I just feel that, that number is … too much.”

Although eventually sold on it by HDR’s Glenwood Springs Project Engineer Joe Elsen, this time around councilors may question why bids for the actual construction itself were 18 percent higher than projected?

“Engineer’s estimates … we are basing those estimates on historic cost data,” Glenwood Springs Assistant City Engineer Jessica Bowser told the Post Independent.

“Projects like Grand Avenue Bridge, where they had a similar item, that was spec’d out,” she explained. “We would take that cost and use it in our cost estimate for the quantity that we have, and sometimes inflate it depending on the situation.”

The 27th Street Bridge project includes a construction method in which the bridge would be built off of the eventual alignment, and then slid into place, thus limiting down time for the existing bridge and the need for a lengthy detour.

However, “It is extremely difficult to accurately account for items such as risk, limited staging and access on a project of this complexity,” the staff report details.

In July of this year, the most recent engineers’ estimate was $8.3 million.

According to the staff report, RL Wadsworth offered the lowest bid for the 27th Street Bridge and related work, in the amount of $9,835,123. The project includes a roundabout at 27th and South Grand (next to ANB Bank), and a separated pedestrian bridge.

RL Wadsworth has offices in Draper, Utah as well as Thornton and was purchased in 2009 by Sterling Construction Company based out of Houston according to

Coming in at $53,902 more than the RL Wadsworth, Hamilton Construction Company offered a bid of $9,889,025, followed by Parsons at $11,266,123, and Gould Construction at $12,261,865.

“We are allowing the contractor to potentially break ground Jan. 1 (2019), if they choose to,” Bowser said. “They have to break ground no later than March 1. The new bridge has to be in place and operational by Aug. 19.”

“We are facilitating more traffic, the roundabout is going to function better than the light does now, and we also are adding the pedestrian bridge, which is great because it will improve the pedestrian experience,” Bowser added.

Whether or not council will green light that amount of money for the Sunlight Bridge will unfold when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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