Bridge detour plan relies on reducing traffic
An effective detour management plan during what’s expected to be a 90-day bridge closure while the new Grand Avenue Bridge is being completed in late 2017 will hinge on reducing current traffic levels by about 20 percent.
To do that, project officials are working on ways to convince people to change their driving habits for certain things, such as shopping and pleasure trips, while enhancing public transit options for commuters and in-city travel.
The planned detour route heading north from Grand Avenue/Highway 82 onto an extended Eighth Street to Midland Avenue and out to the West Glenwood Interstate 70 interchange will add an extra five to 15 minutes of travel time to get through Glenwood Springs, depending on the time of day, according to David Woolfall, project team member with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
That estimate, he said, is contingent on achieving a 20 to 22 percent reduction in existing traffic levels during the detour period, which is now targeted for mid-August through mid-November 2017.
Woolfall, along with CDOT Program Engineer Joe Elsen, presented details of the detour plan to Glenwood Springs City Council and members of the city’s Transportation Commission during an April 2 work session.
The traffic reduction plan involves working with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority to offer more commuter buses and park-and-ride connections for those headed to and from upvalley destinations.
Three temporary Ride Glenwood routes serving different parts of town on either side of the detour would also be established. In addition, a bike share program and daytime parking alternatives within Glenwood Springs could be part of the solution, Elsen added.
SOURCES OF TRAFFIC
But a lot of it comes down to getting as many people out of single-occupant vehicles as possible, and encouraging people to plan trips that aren’t specific to a certain time of day during non-peak traffic hours, he said.
An April 2012 travel survey found that 36 percent of Glenwood Springs’ traffic on Grand Avenue involves those who are commuting to and from work, mostly during the peak weekday morning and evening hours.
Another 20 percent of that traffic is work-related travel within town, and 18 percent is for shopping and errands.
The remaining 26 percent involves recreation/vacation trips, social outings, including dining out, trips to and from medical appointments, church and other personal engagements, and dropping kids off and picking them up from school.
CDOT’s peak traffic reduction plan calls for an 8 percent cut in shopping and errands, 5 percent for commuters, 4 percent for recreation purposes, 3 percent for work-related trips, and 2 percent for social trips.
Ride Glenwood during the detour period would follow three different point-to-point routes between the north Glenwood/Hot Springs area and Glenwood Meadows; from the park-and-ride west of the Meadows to 27th Street/Roaring Fork Marketplace; and from the Amtrak station on Seventh Street to the 27th Street station.
GET ON THE BUS
Woolfall suggested that the city eliminate or reduce bus fares during that time “as an incentive for people not to get into their cars.”
For commuters, Elsen said incentives are needed for people to “get out of their cars before they even leave” Rifle, Silt or New Castle en route to upvalley jobs or other engagements.
Additional park-and-ride options are also being explored on the west side of Glenwood Springs, including possibly the interim use of underutilized private parking lots, he said.
For the private and commercial vehicle traffic that does remain on the Grand Avenue detour, CDOT will also implement measures to discourage people from trying to get around the traffic using side streets and the middle portion of Midland Avenue.
That would include timing traffic signals to favor the detour traffic at key intersections, using traffic control flaggers in places, and limiting some areas to local traffic only, Elsen said.
CDOT is awaiting a final “decision document” related to the federally required Environmental Assessment for the Grand Avenue bridge replacement project, which it anticipates in mid-May. Construction is expected to begin on the removal and replacement of the pedestrian bridge late this year or in early 2016, signaling the start of the two-year, estimated $110 million to $115 million bridge replacement project.
The new pedestrian bridge is needed to relocate utilities that now run beneath the existing highway bridge. The city has been working closely with CDOT on the design of both the new pedestrian and highway bridges, including a tower feature and elevator to provide handicapped access from the south end of the pedestrian bridge to Seventh Street.
Meanwhile, the new highway bridge will follow a new curved alignment from Grand Avenue on the south to the area of Sixth and Laurel at the main I-70 interchange.
Work is expected start on the north end of the bridge, progressing south across the river until the old bridge is removed and the final segment of the new bridge is installed during the three-month detour period. A new roundabout at Sixth and Laurel is also to be constructed during that fall 2017 period, Elsen explained.
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Update at 9:45 p.m.: I-70 is open westbound at MM 114, West Glenwood. Eastbound remains closed at MM 105, New Castle, for an estimated 5-7 hours.