Monday rush brings earlier backup on I-70
An earlier-than-expected backup on Interstate 70 coming into the Grand Avenue bridge detour at West Glenwood greeted Monday morning commuters.
Reports from motorists indicated that the traffic line extended beyond South Canyon as early as 5:45 a.m., as the three-month-long detour for the main Colorado 82 bridge replacement entered its second week.
Project spokesman Tom Newland said it’s an indication that many commuters are still making adjustments to their upvalley travel times and work schedules.
“By about 7:30 it was still backed up about a half mile short of South Canyon. It’s hard to say if we’re looking at a trend yet,” he said of the day-to-day nature of the morning and evening commuter traffic patterns.
One trouble spot in the morning is still the Exit 114 roundabouts, where traffic-control flaggers are metering traffic coming off of I-70 with that coming through the north roundabout from the West Glenwood neighborhoods and off of westbound I-70.
Some motorists reported 20- to 25-minute waits at Mel Rey Road coming into the roundabout for those attempting to get onto the detour route. That backup also seemed to hit earlier in the morning than it did last week, according to reports.
“That came up at our [project team] meeting today, and we may have to look at a different approach to the metering out there,” Newland said.
One change that will be made next weekend will be to alter the signal timing at West Meadows Drive in order to allow more vehicles per light cycle onto the Midland portion of the detour route.
Long backups were reported coming out of the Glenwood Meadows commercial center as more shoppers visited the center on the first weekend of the detour being in effect. The light, which is the only location where left turns onto Midland are allowed, only let about half a dozen vehicles move through at a time.
“We can change that timing during the weekends in particular, where it looks like we need some more time to clear that traffic,” Newland said. “We can’t do that on weekdays, because it will just jam the detour.”
Right turns for shoppers headed back into downtown Glenwood or upvalley can be made at both the East Meadows or West Meadows access points, he noted.
Another change announced Monday comes from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which is running free in-town shuttles and the free Hogback route between Parachute and Glenwood Springs during the detour.
To help clear the rush of commuters connecting from the Hogback buses, RFTA is now running the shuttle between the Amtrak Station on Seventh Street and the 27th Street Station every eight to 10 minutes during peak times, from 6-9 a.m. and again from 3-7:30 p.m.
Because the Hogback buses are now using Exit 116 to get back onto I-70 heading west, any riders wanting to go to West Glenwood are now advised to use the free Ride Glenwood bus that runs along Donegan Road.
The city of Glenwood Springs is also completing a couple of projects to help with pedestrian connections and bicycle commuting around town.
The new staircase leading from the pedestrian bridge across the Roaring Fork River near 14th Street up to the Rio Grande Trail is now complete. Several more bike racks were also expected to arrive soon to help with options for bike parking, City Engineer Terri Partch said during a meeting with downtown merchants last week.
Crews are busy getting the storefront walks in the 700 block of Grand where the old bridge is being demolished ready for brick pavers that will make it easier for pedestrians to navigate the area.
Over the weekend, demo crews removed the remainder of the concrete deck on the south end of the old bridge, and another section of girders passing over the Colorado River was removed.
Nighttime I-70 detours onto Sixth Street were to be in place Monday and Tuesday nights while demolition work continues overhead in that area, Newland said.
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Cleaning up isn’t cheap — that much is clear following estimates it would take $200,000 to clean up all of the roughly 80 homeless encampments in Glenwood Springs.