Aspen, Carbondale adjust construction work hours for detour
Some upvalley towns are following Glenwood Springs’ lead by relaxing the rules about when construction work and associated noises can start and end each day during the Grand Avenue bridge closure and detour.
Glenwood will allow construction to begin at 6 a.m. on weekdays, instead of 7, for the 95-day detour period that takes effect Aug. 14. On the back side of the work day, construction may continue until 8 p.m. instead of having to cease at 7 p.m. under the current rules.
The move is intended to allow some flexibility for construction workers to get through the detour route to and from local job sites outside of the typical weekday commuter rush times that hit from 6:30 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Weekend construction hours will also be extended from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the city is allowing for earlier trash pickup times as a way to alleviate day-time traffic congestion.
The longer construction hours apply to everything from assembling and demolition of buildings to land clearing, grading, excavating and fill work.
It’s an idea that’s catching on all along the Colorado 82 corridor to varying degrees, as towns from Carbondale to Aspen — and contractors doing work in those places — prepare for the challenges associated with getting a workforce that resides in large part north of the Colorado River and west of Glenwood Springs through the two-lane Midland Avenue/Eighth Street detour route.
The detour is necessary in order to remove the existing Grand Avenue bridge that connects Colorado 82 to Interstate 70 and the north part of Glenwood, and to construct the final section of the new bridge.
Project officials have emphasized that commuters can expect hour-long delays getting through Glenwood Springs unless efforts are successful to reduce traffic levels by 35 percent, especially during the rush hours.
Likewise, construction workers in Aspen will get three more hours on weekdays only to do lower-impact work, such as exterior painting and manual landscaping work, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
However, heavier construction work such as jack-hammering, excavation and other earth-moving operations will still have to conform to the permitted work hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with no Sunday work allowed.
Aspen City Council made the call at a work session Tuesday after hearing from the city’s Public Works and Engineering departments about concerns they heard from contractors that the bridge closure could effectively shorten their workdays.
“By temporarily revising the permitted construction work hours, much of the construction related traffic will be spread out, helping mitigate some of the congestion,” Tony Kornasiewicz, construction mitigation manager for the city of Aspen, wrote in a memo to council members.
Carbondale trustees last week also adopted an emergency ordinance allowing for longer construction hours on weekday evenings and weekends.
Town Manager Jay Harrington said that allowing earlier morning work starts was not as well received by some trustees, who were worried about the noise impacts in residential neighborhoods.
But they did agree to allow construction work to continue beyond 7 p.m. on weeknights until sunset during the late summer and early fall time frame. Weekend work will be allowed to start at 7 a.m., instead of 9 a.m., same as the normal weekday hours, Harrington said.
The town will also allow for earlier morning trash pickups, starting at 6 a.m. instead of 7, during the detour period, he said.
Carbondale is following Glenwood Springs’ lead in going to a four-day work week at town hall. Town government offices will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and will be closed on Fridays.
The town has arranged for employee van pools to help take some of the 20 or so town employees who live west of Glenwood Springs to and from work without having to drive.
“We also decided to open up our town RV park to town employees during that time, and I’ve already heard of four who will be doing that,” Harrington said.
Carbondale will likely not be immune from its own traffic impacts during the detour, he said, noting that some commercial delivery trucks coming to the Roaring Fork Valley from points west, such as Grand Junction and Utah, may be inclined to take Colorado 133 over McClure Pass instead of going through Glenwood Springs.
Doing so, however, will add about 40 minutes to the usual I-70 route without the bridge detour, though backups could occur at the 133/82 intersection in Carbondale, Harrington observed.
“It already backs up pretty good there in the mornings, so we may have to do some extra police patrols there,” he said.
Not on board with the relaxed construction work hours, at least not yet, are Basalt and Snowmass Village.
“We have discussed the possibility of extending construction hours, but they’re already pretty long,” said Travis Elliott, assistant to the Snowmass Village town manager.
Snowmass allows construction work to take place from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Also, many of the workers on the large Limelight Hotel and other Base Village projects are already living on site, he said.
Basalt’s interim town manager, Davis Farrar, said there have been some discussions about relaxing construction hours in the midvalley town, but so far no action has been taken by the town council.
“I know that when we were doing the whitewater park construction we did get some complaints about the early morning noise,” he said. “So, it is a sensitive topic among people in Basalt.”
Basalt also has discussed the possibility of flexible work schedules for town employees who live west of Glenwood Springs or north of the river, but again no decisions have been made, he said.
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Former Carbondale trustee Katrina Byars said she wants to bring a voice of environmental sustainability to the commission, and believes her opponent has served long enough.