First bridge construction impacts hit this week
Grand Avenue Bridge public open house Thursday
The Colorado Department of Transportation Grand Avenue Bridge project team invites the public to attend an open house on Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, 100 Wulfsohn Road. There will be two sessions:
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a presentation at noon
• 5-7 p.m., with a presentation at 6 p.m.
“This is a great opportunity for local and regional residents to meet the project team and learn about the Grand Avenue Bridge project phases, upcoming traffic impacts, and overview of the project,” Tom Newland, CDOT project information manager, said.
The presentation highlights the five project phases and construction impacts. The public is encouraged to ask questions and participate in the presentation. Members of the project team will be available to meet with the public.
Anyone trying to navigate the lower part of downtown Glenwood Springs, whether by vehicle or by foot, will experience the first impacts of the Grand Avenue Bridge construction project this week.
The two-year, $125.6 million project to replace the bridge that crosses the Colorado River and connects Highway 82 to Interstate 70 officially began last week.
Starting today, motorists should expect reduced parking along Seventh Street and certain travel restrictions will be in place as Phase 1 of the project gets under way in earnest.
The north (westbound) lane of Seventh Street will be closed from Colorado to Cooper Avenues for the next five to six weeks. That two-block stretch will be open for one-way eastbound traffic only. Motorists taking the Grand Avenue wing street below the bridge can only turn right.
Parking will also not be allowed on the north side of Seventh, and the north sidewalk that passes under the bridge will be closed between Colorado and the pedestrian bridge.
However, access to the pedestrian bridge will remain open for the next several weeks until a temporary pedestrian walkway is erected alongside the highway bridge and the existing pedestrian bridge is dismantled in early March as part of Phase 2.
Phase 1 runs from now until March 1, followed by Phase 2 activities through the remainder of this year.
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus commuters and users of Ride Glenwood Springs also probably noticed that the bus route through the downtown area changed last week and the bus stop in front of Forest Service building near Ninth Street went away.
Buses now turn left on Ninth Street and take Colorado to Seventh Street. RFTA has established a bus stop near the corner of Ninth and Colorado that will be in place for the next two years during the bridge construction.
The travel and parking closures on Seventh are to accommodate removal of the public restrooms underneath the bridge, utility relocation, construction of a causeway along the south bank of the Colorado River that will serve as the bridge construction platform, and shoring and drill boring for the new south bridge pier, explained Tom Newland, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) project information manager.
“The parking has to go on that side of Seventh Street for safety reasons,” Newland said. “We want to get that back in place as soon as possible, but in the meantime we ask people to think about other parking options in downtown.”
That includes the public parking garage at the corner of Ninth and Cooper and the all-day lot next to the Glenwood Springs Firehouse on Cooper.
After-business-hours and weekend parking is also available at the Colorado Mountain College parking garage accessed off of Eighth Street, as well as to the north of the Garfield County Courthouse.
Parking on the east side of Colorado Avenue may also be closed during construction hours, and motorists should anticipate periodic traffic delays on Seventh Street at the intersection of Colorado Avenue for the next several weeks.
“This is to allow for trucks to access the causeway,” Newland said, adding traffic control will be in place during truck deliveries.
Approximately eight trucks per hour will be hauling rock and dumping it at a staging area near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. The rock will be used to construct the causeway.
Truck deliveries will take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for the next five to six weeks, Newland said.
According to CDOT’s weekly construction update, bridge contractor Granite/RL Wadsworth is building a causeway, or temporary rock road, along the Colorado River bank to use as a working platform.
“A causeway is needed to create closer access to the bridge,” CDOT’s public information officials explained.
The causeway will be roughly 500 feet long and 50 to 75 feet wide.
“The causeway will be made out of rock and will be removed when the project is complete,” project officials said. “Cranes, drills and trucks will be staged on the causeway.”
CDOT is also alerting river users of the impending construction activity along both the south and north river banks that will continue for the next two years.
“However, work in the Colorado River itself will finish by March 1,” CDOT advises, explaining that the causeway and other riverbank construction must be completed in advance of the fish spawning season this spring.
Work on the north bank will involve construction of a temporary wall for pier construction on the new pedestrian bridge.
I-70 traffic will also see some impacts as a result, including an eastbound lane closure and a 45 mph work zone speed limit.
temp ped crossing
The temporary pedestrian walkway is expected to be in place by the end of February. It will be five feet wide and will be attached to the existing vehicle bridge. Wider “pull-off” areas will allow for safer passage of bicycles and wheelchairs, Newland said.
The walkway will extend from the south end of the bridge where the existing handicapped access ramp is located all the way across the corner of Sixth and Grand, near the Hot Springs Pool mini-golf course.
The surface will be made of I-beam shaped slats with a rough, no-slip surface similar to a boat or pool deck, Newland said.
The walkway, which will be in place through the remainder of this year until the new pedestrian bridge is finished, is expected to be completed by March 1. At that time, the wing street will also be closed permanently, and the handful of parking spaces beneath the bridge will also go away at that time.
In early February, River Street will be closed between Laurel and the West End of the Hot Springs Pool. CDOT will also take over the west Hot Pool parking lot as a staging area starting at that time and through the duration of the bridge project.
Although the pool will lose 177 parking spaces, according to pool officials they will more than make that up with 230 spaces using the former car dealership and ice cream stand lots on Sixth, and a newly built lot behind the Hot Springs Lodge. The pool will run a shuttle from the outer lots during the bridge construction.
During Phase 2, there will be some nighttime detours of I-70 traffic onto Sixth Street while the pedestrian bridge is being dismantled. The same will be true in late 2017 when the existing highway bridge is removed.
Meanwhile, CDOT has planned a public open house, including a daytime and evening session, for this Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
“This is a great opportunity for the local and regional residents to meet the project team and learn about the Grand Avenue Bridge project phases, upcoming traffic impacts and to get an overview of the project,” Newland said.
The sessions will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5-7 p.m., with formal presentations at noon and 6 p.m.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.