New downtown Glenwood pedestrian bridge opens
At long last, the new Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge spanning Interstate 70 and the Colorado River between Sixth and Seventh streets in downtown Glenwood Springs opened Thursday after several weeks of delays for finishing touches.
Walkers and bicyclists should still be prepared to negotiate some construction fencing as they cross the bridge, project public information manager Kathleen Wanatowicz said Wednesday.
That will mainly be the case on the north end of the bridge, where the temporary walkway that is attached to the vehicle bridge will remain in place for the next several weeks. The temporary bridge is needed for handicapped access until the new bridge’s elevator on Seventh Street is functional.
From the Seventh Street side, foot access to the bridge will be via a fenced walkway diverting pedestrians to the corner of Cooper Avenue. The two-block stretch of Seventh on either side of Grand continues to be used as a construction staging area while the main highway bridge is being built.
Also, the new north stairway down to the Glenwood Hot Springs will not be open until after the Colorado 82 highway bridge is completed and the Hot Springs parking lot is restored. That area also continues to be used for construction staging.
The pedestrian bridge opening marks a milestone in what’s now well into the second year of the two-year-long, $125 million bridge replacement project.
Originally, the new footbridge was to have been open by March 1. But a series of delays involving shipment of the ornate bridge railings and more recently a construction code issue with the south stairs that required them to be reconstructed delayed the opening.
Because the pedestrian bridge will be turned over to the city’s ownership after it is completed, Colorado Department of Transportation officials wanted to make sure most of the work was completed before opening it to the public.
Among the new pedestrian bridge features is a 3-inch bicycle trough on the left side of the south stairway heading up to the bridge deck that will allow cyclists to walk their bikes up the steps. Once the new elevators are ready, expected sometime in late June or July, bicyclists will also have that option.
The elevator access from Seventh Street was chosen by Glenwood Springs City Council early on in the bridge design process as a way to provide the required Americans with Disability Act access, rather than what would otherwise have been an elongated switchback ramp structure.
Colorado Department of Transportation officials also decided early on to include replacement of the pedestrian bridge in addition to the realigned highway bridge, so that utilities that had been attached to the Grand Avenue vehicle bridge could be relocated to the pedestrian bridge.