In Glenwood Springs, construction industry not immune to COVID-19

Two Rivers park sits empty while park construction is halted due to the covid19 outbreak.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Construction at Two Rivers Park and infrastructure improvements planned for Cedar Crest’s roads and underlying infrastructure has been put on hold.

Last week, Gov. Jared Polis implemented a statewide stay-at-home order in an effort to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

Businesses deemed critical, however, can still operate including those that fall under the umbrella of construction.

Those businesses must comply with social distancing requirements per the public health order.

“What’s the intent of the order? It’s to be as aggressive at flattening the curve as we possibly can,” Karl Hanlon, Glenwood Springs city attorney, said.

While the order’s overall intent might be clear, exactly what it means with respect to construction depends on who you ask.

At a special city council meeting Thursday, councilors unanimously approved suspending construction at Two Rivers Park and postponing Cedar Crest’s upcoming work at least until this Thursday.

The Two Rivers Park Project began last October and was scheduled to conclude later this Spring.

Additionally, Gould Construction was ready to begin work on Cedar Crest’s roadway and underlying infrastructure improvements on April 6.

Council halted those two projects specifically — not all construction in Glenwood Springs.

Council will revisit that decision at Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

“Glenwood is taking a pretty conservative interpretation on all of the governor’s orders. That’s why we shut down Ride Glenwood a week-and-a-half ago,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said. “Just because Garfield County or other communities haven’t taken the same viewpoint as we have, doesn’t mean that we’re wrong or they’re wrong.”

Pitkin County recently ordered all residential and commercial construction sites not considered essential infrastructure to shut down by April 1.

On the other hand, Garfield County is allowing construction to continue so long as workers adhere to social distancing requirements and other safety protocols.

In Garfield County, construction workers must stay 6 feet apart and job sites cannot have more than 10 employees present at any given time.

Local contractor Gould Construction was ready to break ground on the Cedar Crest Project in Glenwood Springs, but now doesn’t know when that work will begin.

Gould Construction Chairman Mark Gould said the company was strictly adhering to all of the safety guidelines set forth and insisted work could be done safely.

“We can create social distancing in our business,” Gould said. “We’re asking everybody questions…We’re taking temperatures, we’re making people drive in their separate vehicles.”

One Gould Construction employee was in quarantine for 14 days — not because they tested positive for COVID-19 — but because one of their family members did, Gould said.

Gould, being a seasonal contractor, has approximately 50 employees in the winter and 100 during the summer.

“We’re looking forward to hiring those 50 people back,” Gould said. “We’re not endangering the public’s lives.”

Although the Two Rivers Park and Cedar Crest projects have been put on hold for the time being, future ones like the reconstruction of South Midland remain on track.

“Everything is proceeding and all the designers are working remotely,” said Terri Partch, Glenwood Springs city engineer.

Additionally, Public Works Director Matthew Langhorst said city employees were still sweeping streets and filling potholes in teams of one or two.

“If meetings, coordination or construction cannot be done effectively and safely per council direction, public works would stop that project and wait until the crisis allows for work to move forward,” Langhorst said.

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