New ped connection gets city’s top priority
The city of Glenwood Springs is fast-tracking a plan to have the soon-to-be-replaced Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge relocated and used for a key midtown connection across the Roaring Fork River that’s seen as crucial to help get people around town during and after the highway bridge construction.
To make that happen, possibly by the end of this year, the city is seeking funding help from the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District through that organization’s spring grants.
City Council recently gave top priority to a $350,000 ask from Garfield FMLD to help cover costs to move the bridge and have it serve as a bike and pedestrian link between Midland Avenue and an undeveloped city-owned parcel on the east side of the river near 14th Street, just below Glenwood Springs High School.
Council has already budgeted the estimated $550,000 to complete the bridge relocation this year. It’s one of the key projects contained in the city’s updated long-range transportation plan that was finalized last fall, and is viewed as a way to help reduce traffic on Midland Avenue, especially during the planned 95-day Grand Avenue bridge detour in late 2017.
Any outside financial help to make that happen would go a long way in allowing the city to direct its attention to other transportation-related projects, council members decided during a recent discussion.
In giving top grant priority to the so-called “14th Street Bridge,” council bypassed, at least for now, three other projects recommended by city staff that are also related to the Grand Avenue bridge replacement project that’s under way.
One of those would be utility relocation related to the city’s planned Eighth Street connection. However, the city is still negotiating with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Union Pacific Railroad for a permanent crossing of the railroad side tracks in that area.
The city must also coordinate its timing with the Colorado Department of Transportation to do the Eighth Street work, since that route is to be used in the interim for the bridge detour from August through December 2017.
Two other projects also are in the very early planning stages and aren’t currently budgeted, including new public restrooms to replace the ones that were removed to make way for the new bridge, as well as landscaping associated with the new bridge that’s not part of CDOT’s budget.
Partly because FMLD grants require that a project be completed within two years after receiving funding, City Council decided the pedestrian bridge relocation had a better chance.
Regardless of the city’s success in obtaining grant funding, though, plans are moving forward to complete the project by the end of this year.
According to Tom Newland, Grand Avenue bridge project spokesman, the pedestrian bridge is to be de-constructed starting the first week of March once the temporary walkway that is being attached to highway bridge is ready for use.
Once that happens, the pedestrian bridge will be removed in five separate sections, using cranes to pick up and lower each section onto a flatbed trailer parked on the highway bridge, Newland explained. This will be done during nighttime hours when there is less traffic, he said.
The sections will then be transported one-by-one up Grand Avenue to the city’s property at 14th Street and possibly at the municipal airport, where they will be stored until the city is ready to re-assemble the bridge across the Roaring Fork River. The bridge removal project is expected to take about three weeks to complete, Newland said.
Quite a bit of design and engineering work also still needs to be done by the city before the bridge can be reset, acting City Manager Andrew Gorgey said. The city must also complete a wetland survey before final design and construction takes place, he said.
Gorgey said the city also has only about a six-week window to access the river for work on bridge abutments, due to restrictions related to the Roaring Fork being a Gold Medal fishery.
“We’re looking at sometime in September or October for that work, because that’s the only time we can access the river,” Gorgey said, adding the goal is to have the pedestrian bridge installed by Thanksgiving.
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Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon may be closed intermittently Wednesday through the weekend, as highway crews break down and remove boulders and patch potholes caused by Tuesday’s rock slide.