Final open house today before bridge closure
Rumors are common as big moments approach.
So it is that knocking down some misinformation that’s been floating around on social media and other unofficial forums is on the agenda for bridge project officials to clarify Tuesday evening when the Colorado Department of Transportation hosts its second and final community open house before the Grand Avenue bridge officially closes.
• Midland Avenue between Eighth and 27th streets will not be closed during the detour, though that stretch will be strongly discouraged as a Glenwood Springs through route and would likely take longer than staying on the detour, bridge project officials continue to emphasize.
• And nothing has changed with regards to the length of time the north Midland/Eighth Street detour to Interstate 70 Exit 114 will be in place, which remains 95 calendar days starting Aug. 14, unless weather or some other unforeseen circumstances throw the schedule off.
Tuesday’s forum is it, the last chance to hear all of the detour details and get all those last-minute questions answered in a public forum before the detour goes into effect.
The open house takes place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. A drop-in informational session will start at 4:30 p.m., with a formal presentation to follow.
Kathleen Wanatowicz, project public information manager for the joint-venture general contractor Granite-Wadsworth, said the presentation will be offered a second time for any late arrivals.
The detour presentation and all print materials will also be given in Spanish in an effort to engage the area’s Latino population, which makes up a big percentage of daily work commuters.
Representatives from the bridge project team, the city of Glenwood Springs, and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will be on hand to answer questions about detour logistics and commuting options such as the free RFTA buses and in-town shuttles that will be offered and suggested bicycle and pedestrian routes around town.
In addition to helping people plan, it’s also a chance to clear up some of the misinformation that has been the subject of the many phone messages and emails that the public information team fields on a regular basis, Wanatowicz said.
For one, the middle section of Midland is not going to be closed. “Midland is open, but traffic control will favor the detour route,” she said.
That includes the traffic light at Eighth and Midland, which will be timed in such a way to keep traffic flowing along the detour. On the south end of town, informational signs will advise northbound motorists to stay on the detour and not try to take 27th to Midland.
“We don’t want people zooming through those residential neighborhoods,” Wanatowicz said. Same goes for nonlocal traffic trying to skirt the detour on other side streets through the middle of town, she said.
Two weeks out from the official bridge closure, everything is on track for the critical fourth phase of the $125 million bridge replacement project, involving demolition of the existing Grand Avenue bridge that connects Colorado 82 to I-70, and building of the last segment of the new bridge.
Starting at midnight Aug. 14, east- and southbound Colorado 82 traffic will be diverted off I-70 at Exit 114 onto Midland Avenue to Eighth Street and back onto Grand via Colorado and Ninth streets. North- and westbound traffic will stay on Grand to Eighth Street and turn left onto the detour route at that point.
Project officials are counting on a combination of free RFTA buses serving the Hogback route between Glenwood Springs and Parachute/Battlement Mesa, as well as free in-town shuttles, plus bicycling and walking, in an effort to reduce detour traffic volumes by 35 percent from current levels.
If not, commuters and those just trying to get from one end of town to the other can expect hour-plus delays.
Information about carpool and bus transit parking along the Hogback route and the north pedestrian bridge transit hub on Sixth Street that is to be used will be available at the open house, as will trail maps and available public parking within Glenwood Springs.
“We’re looking at more technical information compared to what was discussed at the first open house” on June 27, Wanatowicz said. “The focus will be on busing and carpooling options, and making sure people understand how that will work.”
The bridge project team has held more than 60 public meetings over the past several months to help the community plan for the detour.
“After this open house, our focus shifts to detour operations,” said Tom Newland, public information manager for CDOT.
To help Glenwood Springs residents plan, project officials have hosted several neighborhood zone meetings for neighbors to connect and set up carpools or share information that might be helpful in planning how best to get around town. The last of the of the pre-detour zone meetings will be at noon Thursday at Summit Canyon Mountaineering on Sixth Street.
However, Wanatowicz said she anticipates the neighborhood meetings will continue once the detour is in effect.
“Our zone events have been pretty lightly attended, but the people who do come really know what’s going on and they are looking for other people to coordinate with,” she said. “Anyone who has any type of asset to offer we want them to be able to make that known.
“The zone strategy works if people will engage with us, and it’s a great tool for self-organizing,” she said.
Details about the downtown parking options, satellite parking lots on the north and south ends of Glenwood and other logistics will also be available at the open house.
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