Pedestrian bridge work to extend well into spring
Detail work on the new Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge, spring weather and a do-over underway this week are combining to complicate the schedule for opening the span that will eventually serve as the foot and bicycle connection over the Colorado River and Interstate 70 in downtown Glenwood Springs.
Nevertheless, Colorado Department of Transportation bridge project officials remain “hopeful” that the foot bridge that’s part of the larger Grand Avenue bridge replacement project will be completed and open to the public sometime next month.
“It is becoming hard to close out the work on the pedestrian bridge because there are so many details to be finished before we can open it,” said Tom Newland, project public information manager for CDOT.
“We could open the bridge right now if we wanted to, but there would have to be periodic closures to finish up some of those details,” he said. “CDOT decided that didn’t make a lot of sense, and is committed to open the bridge in its final condition before turning it over to the city.”
This week, workers could be seen using jackhammers to tear apart new concrete steps leading from Seventh Street up to the pedestrian bridge that had already been installed. That’s because it turned out they were not to code, Newland said.
Specifically, the stair heights and slope in places did not meet requirements under the 2009 International Building Code, Newland said.
“The repair methods turned out to be labor intensive, but they will ensure the structure performs as designed and meets all specifications and applicable codes,” he said, adding that the fix did not result in any additional cost.
Spring weather and the recent pattern of storms also contributes to the challenge of getting all of the work done, Newland said.
CDOT had an original target date of March 1 to open the pedestrian bridge. That opening was pushed back to April, partly because some of the railings that are now installed along the sides of the bridge were discovered to be flawed.
Project officials still hope to have the bridge open sometime in April, though a specific date is still unknown, Newland said. The ongoing work on the pedestrian bridge, which is part of the larger, $125 million project is not affecting the timeline for building the new Grand Avenue/Colorado 82 vehicle bridge, he said.
“The pedestrian bridge is not in the critical path of the main project, so it doesn’t have to be done for something else to be done,” Newland said.
The construction contract calls for the pedestrian bridge to be in place when the main vehicle bridge closes and the highway detour is put in place in mid-August, he said. It’s still on track to be completed well before then, and in plenty of time for the start of the late-spring, early summer tourist season, he assured.
“We anticipate this bridge will be very heavily used as soon as we open it, and we want to make sure we have a good, complete, safe product,” Newland said. “We don’t want to have to come in and close it for a week and then reopen it again.”
Fixes on some of the construction details are common throughout the course of any project the size of the Grand Avenue bridge replacement, he added.
“Inspection protocols are implemented on all CDOT projects to discover any deficiencies and correct them so the desired end product is achieved,” Newland said.
Timing for the pedestrian bridge opening and other details are expected to be topics of discussion when bridge project officials meet later this week with downtown business owners and residents. That meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday at the project public information office, 715 Grand Ave., Suite A.
Meanwhile, even though the new pedestrian bridge will not be available for use as originally hoped, the city is still planning a special Earth Day event April 22.
The free, family oriented event being organized by Roaring Fork Events will run from noon to 5 p.m. and will feature a community bike ride starting in Two Rivers Park, as well as live music, informational booths, a recycling project and kids activities downtown in Centennial Park.
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