Groundbreaking marks start of Glenwood Springs’ 27th St. Bridge project
A Wednesday groundbreaking marked the ceremonial start for Glenwood Springs’ planned replacement of the aging and poorly rated 27th Street Bridge.
The bridge, commonly known as the Sunlight Bridge, provides the city’s main link over the Roaring Fork River to the neighborhoods along South Midland Avenue, as well as the Four-Mile Road corridor.
Earlier this year, City Council awarded the roughly $9.8 million construction contract to RL Wadworth to build the new, wider bridge and roundabout at the intersection of 27th and South Grand Avenue.
In addition, HDR out of Denver was given a contract not to exceed $1.25 million for the construction management portion of the project.
Although based out of Denver, HDR’s Glenwood Springs Project Engineer Joe Elsen, who was involved with the Colorado Department of Transportation on the front end of the $126 million Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project, will lead the management team.
“The 27th Street Bridge has a unique history and one that is somewhat personal to me,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Michael Gamba said to those in attendance outside of Rivers Restaurant Wednesday. “My dad was actually an engineer on the original project in the late 1960s, and it is an honor for me to be a part of the City Council that approved the new bridge project.
“With over 14,000 vehicles crossing this bridge each day, the city recognizes it is time for a replacement to better meet the needs of our residents and visitors as Glenwood Springs continues to grow,” Gamba added.
The existing bridge has been deemed by state inspectors as “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete,” receiving a rating of 10.5 out of 100 and making it currently the worst-rated bridge in Colorado.
The bridge is not currently a safety hazard but, like the former Highway 82/Grand Avenue Bridge, is at the end of its lifespan and needs to be replaced, state officials have concluded.
“We are very proud to start replacing the 27th Street Bridge,” City Manager Debra Figueroa said in a separate interview. “We are really hopeful people are patient with us as we go through this process. and we look forward to having a beautiful new bridge.”
Construction of the new vehicle bridge will take place adjacent to the existing bridge before being slid into place, which should minimize traffic impacts, according to city officials.
“The contractor has not finalized their schedule at this point,” Assistant City Engineer Jessica Bowser said. “We are looking at an early January, partial startup at this moment and then most of that work will be done under the bridge for the first few months.
“As they work their way up, they will move on to the pedestrian bridge set and the construction of the new bridge offline,” she said.
The project will involve construction of a new pedestrian bridge and removal of bridge piers from the Roaring Fork River in an effort, city officials say, to improve not only the pedestrian experience but also that of river users.
“This will be the city’s largest project in quite some time, and we are excited to see the work begin on it,” Gamba said during the groundbreaking ceremony. “I would also like to thank city staff for the work they have done to move this project forward.”
Additionally, the mayor thanked two organizations that are helping to fund the project outside of city tax dollars, including the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District.
Taxpayers are contributing to the project via the city’s special Acquisitions and Improvements sales tax fund, which was reauthorized by voters last year.
According to Bowser, the city is still confident in its Nov. 30, 2019 finish date.
“About a year from now we can all look forward to using our new 27th Street Bridge,” Gamba said.