Grand Ave. project set in concrete
Special to the Post Independent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Colorado Department of Transportation officials cemented their plan Tuesday for the Grand Avenue Paving Project in a meeting with City Council.
The all-concrete GAPP project is slated to start Sept. 7 and run through May 26, 2005, with a hiatus in December and January.
“We’ve made the decision that we’re doing everything in concrete,” said Ed Fink, CDOT’s Region 3 director, during the special council meeting Tuesday.
In recent weeks, downtown merchants called for a switch to asphalt paving downtown because it would take less time. They fear losing business during a long construction period.
“This decision was made a year ago,” said Fink of the concrete paving, and was based on a life cycle cost analysis. While CDOT considered a mixed concrete and asphalt project, the asphalt idea has been dropped.
The analysis showed that a concrete roadway through downtown Glenwood Springs would be cheaper in the long run, said Fink. It’s expected to last 30 years or longer with minimal needs for repairs.
CDOT will seek bids for concrete paving from the Grand Avenue Bridge south to the three endpoints on Grand Avenue, and see which bids fall within the state’s $4.2 million budget for the project.
Construction timeline, cost estimates
Repaving will take place during two construction windows in 2004 and 2005.
The first window will last from Sept. 7 to Dec. 3, 2004. During this window, all paving south of the 10th Street intersection is scheduled.
The second phase will take place from Feb. 1 to May 26, 2005, and will include Grand Avenue from 10th Street to the Grand Avenue bridge, which CDOT calls the downtown section, and finish any remaining stretch south of 10th Street.
The southern edge of GAPP has not yet been determined.
GAPP has a budget of $4.2 million, but CDOT is not sure how much work it can get done for that amount.
Contractors will be asked to bid on three different stretches of Grand Avenue.
The first stretch is the entire section of Grand Avenue from 7th to 20th streets.
The first alternate section is from the bridge to just south of the True Value driveway, which would be 15th Street if a street were there.
The next alternate section is from the bridge to the 18th Street intersection.
CDOT has no timeline other than the allotted windows. Exact dates when specific intersections and lanes will be completed will be decided by the contractors, said Fink.
Fines and incentives
CDOT will make every effort to minimize the impact on business and traffic, said Fink, but will also offer incentives of more than $100,000 to contractors to get the work done quickly.
“We’d like to put that money into concrete,” said Fink, “but out of sensitivity (for the businesses) we have to put it in incentives.”
Contractors that fall behind schedule will also be subject to fines, said Fink.
CDOT will also phase the project to keep as many lanes open as possible, doing construction in a specific block for a limited amount of time.
“Maybe we’ll only be in one block for six or seven weeks,” Fink told the council.
Some city council members said despite efforts to minimize GAPP’s impact, downtown businesses would still suffer.
“Six or seven weeks, that’s a huge impact,” said City Councilwoman Chris McGovern. She said some downtown businesses suffered a 20 percent decrease in business during last summer’s water line construction on Grand Avenue.
With some businesses operating on only 15 to 20 percent annual profit margin, said McGovern, “those folks went without a paycheck for one month.”
McGovern is worried about the future of downtown Glenwood Springs, citing already empty storefronts and disappearing retail businesses.
“I know people who will be going to talk to their landlords to get out of their leases,” when they find out about the decision to pave Grand Avenue in concrete, said McGovern.
A chance to improve downtown
Not everyone at the meeting was as concerned for the future of downtown.
At a Downtown Development Association meeting last week, few merchants were worried about GAPP, reported David Osborne, a DDA board member and owner of the Dark Room on Cooper Avenue.
When the DDA board asked retailers if they were concerned about GAPP, only two business owners out of more than 40 raised their hands, said Osborne.
City Council and CDOT also discussed possible improvements to Grand Avenue during GAPP, citing the fact that merchants might be more likely to support GAPP if they would get something from the project.
One idea was to build raised medians in the middle of the street that would look nice and could slow traffic through downtown.
The DDA and CDOT will work together to see if they can pave Grand Avenue and improve downtown at the same time, said Osborne.
A road like Grand Avenue is a very difficult thing to manage, said Skip Hudson, a CDOT operations engineer. Hudson said the difficulty is that it must provide access to local businesses, but must also allow through traffic to flow easily.
Both members CDOT and city council said that they will move forward with a positive attitude now that the final decision has been made.
Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534
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