Grand Avenue Bridge project entering critical planning stage
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — If local officials and citizens are to influence the design of the new Grand Avenue Bridge, which is about to enter a critical planning phase, now is the time, a consultant working to plan various downtown improvements related to the bridge project said this week.
Some of the ideas for a streetscape plaza beneath and on either side of the bridge as it comes into downtown Glenwood Springs should be put on the table, said Jim Charlier, a transportation planning consultant working with the Downtown Development Authority.
And, if the city wants to lessen the impact of the bridge on the downtown area by suggesting everything from architectural features and speed controls to finding ways to reduce noise and light pollution, now is the time to weigh in, he said.
“It’s far easier to provide guidance to CDOT on those kinds of design details now,” Charlier advised Glenwood Springs City Council at a special May 6 council meeting. “If you wait until the EA [Environmental Assessment] and design process are under way, it could be too late to get your ideas on the table.”
The Colorado Department of Transportation is about to enter the formal EA process for the bridge project, which will be done in conjunction with designing the new bridge.
CDOT announced this week that several key decisions are about to be made regarding the bridge design process, replacement of the pedestrian bridge, and intersection details at Sixth and Laurel where the realigned bridge is proposed to touch down north of the Colorado River.
A Grand Avenue Bridge “Stakeholder Working Group” meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on May 30 at the Glenwood Springs Community Center to address those and other details to be formally studied in the EA.
“Public input continues to be an important part of the process and will be considered along with the evaluation of impacts in the EA,” project officials said in a May 6 press release. “Input on architectural elements, design details, the construction detour, landscaping, signage and other elements will be the focus of work over the next 12 to 18 months.”
At this point, the year-long EA process is expected to be completed by May of next year, following a required public review and hearing that will likely take place sometime in January 2014.
A final bridge design is not expected until the end of 2014. Construction could begin by January 2015, if the project stays on schedule, CDOT officials said.
State and federal transportation officials have been working since the middle of 2011 to plan for the replacement of the Grand Avenue Bridge, which carries State Highway 82 traffic from Interstate 70 through Glenwood Springs and southeast to Aspen.
The existing 60-year-old bridge has several structural deficiencies and is listed as functionally obsolete by the state. The project is in line to receive approximately $60 million in Colorado Bridge Enterprise funds.
In its project update this week, CDOT said several new design options related to the pedestrian bridge, a pedestrian underpass near I-70 Exit 116 and Sixth/Laurel intersection details are available for viewing at http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge.
A new contracting consultant, Granite/RLW Joint Venture, has also been hired to give advice about construction methods and scheduling as part of the upcoming EA process.
City Council, meanwhile, generally agreed on the bridge design principles offered by Charlier, but wasn’t prepared to take action at the Monday meeting. Council will likely ask for a work session with bridge project officials before the EA formally begins.
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The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association is working with local businesses and organizations to celebrate the spirit of Strawberry Days with a Berry Special Weekend from June 18-20, according to a news release.