Costs spike on 14th Street ped bridge |

Costs spike on 14th Street ped bridge

One of the former Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge segments that was removed last spring to make way for the new downtown bridge sits along Coach Miller Drive near where it was to be reused as part of the 14th Street pedestrian span.
John Stroud / Post Independent |

Costs have increased nearly $1 million on the new pedestrian and bike link over the Roaring Fork River between Midland Avenue and the 14th Street area near Glenwood Springs High School because most of the old downtown ped bridge is unusable in the new location.

“The city and the City Council still consider this a valuable project and an important connection to make, especially with the Grand Avenue bridge detour coming next year,” City Engineer Terri Partch said last week.

But the original plan to reuse the full 330-foot span that was removed from its location across the Colorado River by Colorado Department of Transportation contractors last spring had to be modified over the summer after it was realized the torch-cut sections could not easily be reassembled in the new location, Partch explained.

In addition, the more-than three-decade-old bridge beams had suffered from internal corrosion over the years, possibly speeded along by its location next to the natural mineral hot springs that feed the Glenwood Hot Spring Pool, she surmised.

“When it was removed we thought we were getting a bridge that was in good shape. It was somewhat unexpected when we found out otherwise,” Partch said.

So the city worked with 14th Street bridge contractors Gould Construction to come up with a solution and a fitting design for the structure, she said.

A 65-foot segment of the old bridge will still be used on the east end of the new span, but the remainder of the bridge will be brand new and has been designed to mimic the look of the old bridge.

That, along with rising construction costs, resulted in a cost increase for the project from a little over $1 million originally to just under $2 million now.

In addition to the new bridge, the project includes a trail connection across the city-owned property below the high school up to the Rio Grande Trail. It includes a handicap ramp designed to Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

The project is being paid for in part by a $350,000 Garfield Federal Mineral Lease District grant. The city is picking up the remainder of the tab using sales tax money.

“The original look of the bridge was something that council decided was important to maintain, but if we are going to make that kind of investment we want it to last,” City Manager Debra Figueroa said.

The old bridge segments could have been refabricated, she said, but the result would have been a bridge with a 30-year lifespan at best. The new bridge is being designed for a 75-year lifespan, Figueroa said.

Initial plans were to have the new pedestrian bridge completed by the end of this year. It’s now on track for a spring completion, Partch said.

City Council also recently decided to build an asphalt trail on the east side of the bridge using an alignment angling back upstream along the river and connecting to a new stairway and separate ADA ramp up to the existing Rio Grande crossing at Coach Miller Drive near the south end of Stubler Memorial Field.

However, that could change in the future as the city looks to develop a park master plan for the bench area along the river in that vicinity.

The city may also continue to work with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, manager of the Rio Grande Trail, on the possibility of a more direct foot connection from the new bridge up to 14th Street. That becomes complicated, however, because the former railroad line is legally railbanked and additional corridor crossings are discouraged.

On the west side of the new bridge, a trail link will connect to the Midland Avenue bike/pedestrian path.

Also progressing toward a November completion is a $1.75 million trail link on the far west end of Midland Avenue between Glenwood Meadows and the Interstate 70 Exit 114 roundabouts. That project also includes a bridge crossing over Midland. It too is being paid for in part by Garfield FMLD grant money.

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