Access onto, off of Grand during detour will lead to waits
One of the challenges with the looming Grand Avenue bridge closure will be for motorists trying to make a left turn onto or off of side streets along the detour route.
In particular, the Grand Avenue intersections at Eighth, Ninth, 10th, 11th, and extending south to the Blake/Roaring Fork Marketplace intersection will be second priority to traffic that’s making its way along the detour.
“Simply put, the answer is probably ‘no,’” Grand Avenue Bridge Project Engineer Graham Riddile said when a downtown resident asked if signal times would be increased to allow traffic to clear from side streets. The topic came up during last week’s open house, which discussed the 95-day detour that begins Aug. 14. The informational meeting that was designed to get people thinking about how they will adjust their travel habits during the detour.
“This will be a very difficult situation to manage, because there’s just not enough time to get all of the traffic where it needs to go,” Riddile said.
Priority will be given to traffic moving through Glenwood Springs along the detour route on Grand, Eighth and Ninth streets, and north Midland Avenue.
“If we’re stopping [Colorado] 82 traffic too frequently, that’s where it jams up and where people start going who knows where to find their way around the detour,” Riddile said. “We really need to push the through traffic on the detour route.”
That will be frustrating for those who want to turn south onto Grand or cross Grand from the east side of town, including those trying to do the right thing by carpooling to cut down on traffic, pointed out Cooper Avenue resident and landlord Betsy Suerth.
“Those queue times are already lengthy, and I think the construction team could do a better job of communicating what those times will be,” Suerth said.
If cars are stacked 10 deep trying to get onto Grand, it could take upwards of 10 minutes to make the turn, she figured.
“They need to be able to tell the community how long those queue times are going to be, so we know what to expect,” she said, adding it might be prudent to increase the signal times a bit.
Riddile said the bridge project team is still working to finalize the signal timing plan for the detour period. City officials have also said the concern about making left turns is valid, and they will offer input.
Signal timing also plays into the detour management goal of keeping through traffic on the detour route, rather than having motorists trying to side cut through other parts of town, Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said at the meeting.
“The traffic lights are going to be set up to keep everything flowing on 82, and make that detour functional,” he said. “It will really mess it up if people try to find their way around the detour, and come to spots where we don’t have controls in place.”
Project officials have established a goal to try to reduce normal Grand Avenue/82/Midland traffic by about 35 percent, especially during peak times, in order to avoid major delays. To that end, multiple entities are promoting an aggressive plan involving free buses and shuttles, permitted employee van pools, and encouraging people to carpool, bike and walk.
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