New downtown Glenwood traffic impacts start this week
Grand Avenue bridge project officials have scheduled a meeting with downtown business operators and residents at 9 a.m. Tuesday, 715 Grand Ave., Suite A.
The next round of impacts associated with Grand Avenue bridge construction hit this week and will last several months at one critical downtown traffic intersection.
Starting today, the southbound left turn lane coming off of the bridge onto Eighth Street will be closed at least through spring 2017 and possibly longer, according to bridge project officials.
That means motorists headed toward points east of Grand will have to proceed to Ninth or 10th streets to turn left. Access onto Grand from east and westbound Eighth will still be allowed.
The turn-lane closure is necessary as work begins today on the 189-foot-long structural walls that will run from north to south in the 700 block of Grand. The walls will be part of the new bridge support as it lands near the Eighth Street intersection, and provide aesthetics for the downtown area.
“The bridge will come in slightly higher than the old bridge and land closer to Eighth Street, so in order to build the walls we will need to have some work space on either side,” explained Tom Newland, project public information manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation.
To create that space, the four lanes on Grand/Colorado 82 will be restriped and the turn lane eliminated for the time being, Newland said.
Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in both directions going across the bridge during peak travel times. However, periodic one-lane closures will be needed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for construction access.
In addition, a safety fence will be erected in the pedestrian plaza areas in the 700 block on either side of Grand. Access to stores and other businesses in that block will be maintained.
Newland said project information officials have fielded questions from downtown business owners asking if the work could be put off until after the holiday shopping season.
However, he said it’s important to keep the project schedule on track in order to be ready for the planned Aug. 14, 2017, bridge closure and 95-day detour period so the final segment of the bridge can be built and opened by the end of next year.
“If we start any later, we just don’t know what the winter weather is going to bring, so we want to start when we know we will have adequate time to reach that Aug. 14 date,” Newland said. “That 95 days is really tight, and we are trying to do as much construction outside of that time frame as possible.”
Access to businesses will not be closed, he emphasized.
In fact, access will be better than it was during the utility work that was done in that stretch last spring, he said. A full 6-8 feet of clear walkway space will be maintained in front of stores.
Project officials have scheduled a meeting with downtown business operators and residents at 9 a.m. Tuesday, at 715 Grand Ave., Suite A, to discuss the wall construction work and related impacts.
“We want to give people a detailed look at what will be going and where, and just make everyone aware of the situation and what it will look like in front of their businesses for the next several months,” Newland said. It’s possible the fences could be removed during the height of tourism season next summer, but they would have to go back up during the detour, he said.
In the meantime, “Local support of these businesses during this time would be appreciated,” Newland said.
Construction of the structural walls will be done in four phases, with a completion date in early summer.
Starting today, crews will set safety barriers on the east and west sides of Grand in the plaza areas and begin saw-cutting the temporary asphalt that was laid after the utility work. The fenced barrier will be a mix of concrete, glare screen plywood and six-foot fencing. It will be in place for the remainder of the bridge project.
Phase four of the work will start after the new pedestrian bridge opens in March. The temporary walkway over the Colorado River will be removed at that time for construction access to build the bridge abutment.
Downtown businesses are also advised that there will be intermittent noisy conditions during work hours when heavy equipment is in use, Newland said.
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