Northbound Grand will be just one lane during bridge detour
Northbound Grand Avenue/Colorado 82 from 27th Street to Eighth Street will be reduced to one lane of traffic when the 95-day Grand Avenue bridge detour is in place later this year, in an effort to keep one lane clear for emergency vehicles, buses and other authorized vehicles.
Among those authorized vehicles, though, will be specially permitted van pools for construction contractors and other large employers allowing vans carrying six people or more to use the fast lane, at least for the return home at the end of the work day.
The van pool program and other details about the upcoming detour that is set to begin Aug. 14 were shared by bridge project officials during a special conference phone call with construction contractors Friday morning.
By shifting regular traffic into the left-hand lane through the northbound section of the detour, it will allow authorized vehicles to have clear passage in the right-hand lane, said Kathleen Wanatowicz, public information manager for the project.
Use of the right lane will also still be allowed for any right-hand turns off of Grand, she said.
Contractors and any other groups that can put together a van pool will be able to obtain a special permit from the Colorado Department of Transportation.
“We want people to plan ahead as much as possible, and especially construction project owners and crews,” Wanatowicz said. “Anything you can do to plan ahead and come up with strategies internally as much as possible, that is going to help.”
That will be especially true during the peak morning and evening commuter times from 6-9 a.m. and from 3:30-7 p.m., she said.
The conference call included about 60 people who phoned in to hear the latest plans for the detour period. Starting Aug. 14, the existing Grand Avenue bridge that connects Colorado 82 to Interstate 70 will be closed, and work will begin to complete the final segment of the new bridge.
Through the end of November, a detour using Midland Avenue from I-70 Exit 114 in West Glenwood to the new Eighth Street connection will be in place.
Project officials do not have the same option for a dedicated lane on the detour route itself, because it is only two lanes. However, Wulfsohn Road running along the back side of Glenwood Meadows, could be an option and is already a dedicated bus route, Wanatowicz said during a follow-up interview.
The message to construction contractors was to begin thinking now what they might be able to do to get their workers through Glenwood Springs during the detour period, while helping CDOT achieve its goal of reducing usual Grand Avenue traffic by 25 percent.
“If there’s any way you are able to avoid those peak travel times, that’s going to be your best strategy,” she said. “Otherwise, you need to know there are going to be considerable delays and increased travel times.”
The main Glenwood Springs Exit 116 will remain open during the detour, but only for access to the Sixth Street corridor.
Bridge project officials are launching a major public information campaign this month to get commuters, Glenwood Springs residents and employers thinking about ways to help ease traffic congestion during the detour period.
“Plan ahead, team up and drive less” is the slogan of the campaign, Wanatowicz said.
For commuters, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will be running buses for free starting in Parachute and picking up riders along the way. From the 27th Street station in Glenwood Springs headed toward Aspen, regular fares will apply.
Free in-town shuttles and an expanded Ride Glenwood bus service, which will also be free during the detour, will be running, as well.
As part of the campaign, Glenwood Springs will also be divided into five “community zones,” where people will be encouraged to work with designated volunteers and among themselves to organize car pooling and other ways to limit traffic, Wanatowicz said.
Wanatowicz said the conference call-in format with contractors was a first and recognizes that construction workers in particular may have a harder time using mass transit and other alternative modes of transportation during the detour.
A similar call-in format was set up for river users about the restrictions on the Colorado River while the bridge construction is going on.
Those limits will be in place again during various times this summer, she said.
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Cleaning up isn’t cheap — that much is clear following estimates it would take $200,000 to clean up all of the roughly 80 homeless encampments in Glenwood Springs.