Get ready for steady din of bridge removal |

Get ready for steady din of bridge removal

For the next two weeks, cranes, loaders, forks, saws and concrete “munchers” will be used to carry out what’s expected to be by far the loudest, most intrusive phase of two-year bridge project.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

As soon as the old Grand Avenue bridge closes Monday, work begins immediately to remove the 64-year-old structure in order to make way for the last segment of the new bridge to be built.

The bridge has already been reduced to one lane in each direction so crews can mobilize cranes over the weekend and store the 15 large pieces of equipment that will be used to tear apart the old structure.

For the next two weeks, cranes, loaders, forks, saws and concrete “munchers” will be used to carry out what’s expected to be by far the loudest, most intrusive phase of the two-year bridge project.

“Trucks will stage in the center of the bridge, with lighting plants in the downtown area to allow for 24/7 work until the bridge is gone,” said Tom Newland, public information manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Rather than a single, large “bomb” explosion, as one bridge project official described it during a public open house last week, Newland said it will be “more of a steady din of construction demolition.”

“There will be a big fence to screen the area, and there will be rumbling of equipment and things crashing. It will be happening constantly for 24/7, for 10 days to two weeks before we get everything down,” he said.

The work will involve two or three different shifts of workers each day. “These guys are going for it,” Newland said.

Demolition work will start on the south end. About half of the estimated 174 truckloads of concrete, steel and dirt will be taken out via the Eighth Street and Midland Avenue detour route to Interstate 70 Exit 114.

Starting the bridge demo on the south end will allow construction crews to complete pier work and start laying the girders for the final section of the new, four-lane bridge coming into downtown as soon as possible, Newland said.

Work will then move to the north end of the bridge, where the material will be hauled off on Sixth to I-70 and west from there.

The estimated 3,000 yards of concrete will be taken to an aggregate company in Rifle to be processed into gravel, explained Kathleen Wanatowicz, public information manager for the joint-venture contractors Granite-Wadsworth.

The old steel girders, beams and rebar are to be taken to a mill in Pueblo to be recycled as rebar and railroad tracks, she said.

Extreme care will be taken when removing the center section of the old bridge to avoid any of the debris falling into the Colorado River, she added.

“We will have a radio communication network in place to coordinate things, and have regular safety checks,” Wanatowicz said.

The river will be closed to recreational users beneath the bridge while it is being demolished. River put-ins at No Name, Grizzly and Shoshone in Glenwood Canyon will be closed to private users. Commercial river runners will be allowed to do repeat trips between Shoshone and Grizzly.

I-70 will also have nighttime detours onto Sixth Street while work is being done overhead.

Spectators can observe the demolition and new bridge construction activities from the pedestrian bridge, but are advised to not interrupt communications activities and to not block pedestrian traffic.

“We know there are going to be a lot of looky-loos, and we want people to come out and see what’s going on,” Wanatowicz said. “But people also need to be mindful that communications are critical and that workers need to be able to hear and focus.

“We also just want to reiterate the high-pain, low-duration options that we are employing with the project, and we are doing all that we can to encourage support and patronage to downtown businesses during this process,” she said.

Beginning Monday, the I-70 Exit 116 interchange and Sixth Street will also be one lane in each direction for the remainder of the bridge detour.

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