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Glenwood Springs asks CDOT for better info on bridge scheduling

The existing Grand Avenue Bridge crosses the Colorado River and Rio Grande train tracks, connecting state Highway 82 to Interstate 70. The Colorado Department of Transportation is gearing up to replace the bridge during a two-year construction period slated to begin in January.
Post Independent file photo |

Second-hand information that the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to take over the Glenwood Hot Pool parking lot in January and close off part of North River Street to start staging for the Grand Avenue Bridge construction has City Council asking to be kept better in the loop.

Council, at a special meeting Thursday evening, fired off a letter to bridge project officials requesting more direct communication about CDOT’s scheduling and what traffic and pedestrian impacts the city can expect.

News of the anticipated early construction schedule was relayed to city officials from Hot Springs Pool representatives, Mayor Michael Gamba said.



“The fact that we have not been informed of these plans or timing is quite disturbing,” Gamba wrote in the letter approved by council to be sent to CDOT’s bridge project manager, Roland Wagner, and Tom Newland, who is to be CDOT’s communications consultant on the project.

In particular, closing the west end of River Street near the Interstate 70 interchange will mean all traffic headed to the Hot Pool, the Yampah Vapor Caves, the Glenwood Center for the Arts and other businesses in the vicinity will have to travel onto Sixth Street.



That alone is likely to cause an increase in traffic backups at the intersection of Sixth and Grand, even before actual bridge construction starts, Gamba and council members said.

“We are vitally concerned that this additional traffic added to that intersection will substantially reduce the current level of service without the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures,” the letter states.

Gamba said he called the special meeting to get the city’s concerns about pre-planning for the project on the table as soon as possible, and to request a meeting with CDOT officials to bring council up to speed.

While still fully in support of the bridge replacement project and wanting to see it go forward in a timely manner, communication is critical to make sure that can happen, Gamba said.

“We’re potentially two months away from one pretty major impact, and we don’t really know what’s going to happen and what those impacts will be,” he said.

Councilman Todd Leahy said he shares in that frustration.

“I can’t believe they are about to start a $120 million project, and there’s still a lot we don’t know,” Leahy said. “It’s time for us to know how this is going to go down if this is starting in two months.”

CDOT officials have indicated to city officials that, because they are in final negotiations for a construction contract, there are certain details that cannot be made public.

Wagner was not available Thursday for comment. But council indicated in its letter that, if any details need to be shared in private, it is willing to meet with CDOT in executive session.

City Attorney Karl Hanlon advised that, because certain details are considered part of CDOT’s pricing structure and therefore privileged information until contract terms are reached, that the city could have that discussion in confidence.

At some point, though, the public needs to know what to expect, council members said, and the sooner the city can plan for that the smoother it will go, their letter states.

“However, it is unacceptable for CDOT to leave the community in the dark on issues such as this,” the letter concludes.

Meanwhile, council also began discussing a directive from CDOT higher-ups to the bridge project team to trim between $3 million and $5 million from the Glenwood project budget.

The bridge replacement, which is to receive up to $99 million from the state’s Bridge Enterprise fund, is already about $10 million to $15 million over budget.

Some of the aesthetic treatments to the bridge design that city officials have requested are on the table in that discussion, said City Manager Jeff Hecksel and City Engineer Terri Partch, who attended a meeting in Denver last week with CDOT officials.

The city is willing to give up some of those design elements, or at least defer them to a later time after the bridge is built. Others the city will have to work with CDOT to retain, they said.

Council expects to continue that discussion at its regular Nov. 5 meeting.


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