Eighth Street detour connection set to open early | PostIndependent.com

Eighth Street detour connection set to open early

A new street connection linking the dead-end portion of Eighth Street, pictured here west of Glenwood Springs City Hall, to the Roaring Fork River bridge and Midland Avenue, could be done by early fall. The route is to be used for the Grand Avenue bridge detour late next year.
John Stroud / Post Independent | Post Independent

A new Eighth Street connection to Midland Avenue that will serve as part of the Grand Avenue bridge detour late next year is now on track to be built and ready to carry traffic by this fall.

Bridge project spokesman Tom Newland said the Colorado Department of Transportation has decided to open the temporary detour route almost a year earlier than originally planned.

Glenwood Springs city officials have also pressed to have the street connection in place as soon as possible so they can see how it functions in advance of the town’s plans to make the connection permanent after the bridge is completed.

Construction could begin as soon as next month, pending final paperwork, and the new street connection west of Glenwood Springs City Hall could be functional within six to eight weeks after that, Newland said.

The Eighth Street project is being moved up in the overall bridge construction schedule in part to help ease traffic congestion caused by the lengthy closure of Seventh Street between Colorado and Cooper avenues since construction began in January.

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“Speeding up the construction schedule would also improve pedestrian safety by reducing the number of vehicles traveling along this portion of Seventh Street,” CDOT officials said in a news release.

Opening the detour route earlier than first anticipated will mean that the impacts outlined in the formal environmental assessment that was done for the bridge project will occur sooner and last longer.

For that reason, project officials have been accepting comments about the early opening of the street connection for the past week, and will continue to do so through Wednesday, Newland said.

“It’s not a requirement to take comment or have a hearing, but it is a big project and we wanted to do that in this case,” he said.

In addition to the Eighth Street work, CDOT will be making approximately $1.7 million in improvements to local streets along the planned detour route and to the Eighth Street bridge over the Roaring Fork River. Work is already underway to improve the West Glenwood Exit 114.

The detour is set to go into effect from late August to December 2017, when the existing Grand Avenue bridge will be closed to make way for the final segment of the new bridge.

During that time, Highway 82 traffic will travel east from Exit 114 along Midland Avenue and onto the new Eighth Street link. A temporary traffic signal at Eighth and Colorado will control traffic at a “square-about,” where eastbound traffic will take Colorado to Ninth Street and back onto Grand Avenue. Westbound traffic will stay on Grand before turning left onto Eighth Street.

Those traffic controls will not be in place until they are needed during the actual detour, Newland said.

Originally, the Eighth Street connection was not to have been constructed until next summer. The work still hinges on final approvals with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for temporary removal of railroad tracks that are part of the side tracks known as the “wye.”

The Eighth Street project will require removal of the railroad tracks and bed, and placement of a two-lane asphalt road with drainage improvements. Modifications will also be made to maintain bicycle access to the Rio Grande Trail.

Any comments or concerns on the acceleration of the schedule for the Eighth Street detour should be directed to Tom Newland, CDOT Project Public Information Manager, P.O. Box 4815, Basalt, CO 81621, or email tom@newlandprojectresources.com.

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