Ramp-up begins for Grand Ave. Bridge project
The reality of Glenwood Springs’ biggest highway construction project in years will become more evident this fall, as final planning ramps up before the large cranes arrive in January to begin replacing the Grand Avenue Bridge.
Already, SourceGas is in the final stages of relocating a natural gas service pipeline in advance of the bridge project.
The pipeline work, which began in June along Sixth Street north of the Colorado River and Interstate 70, moved south of the river to Cooper Avenue between Seventh and Eighth streets last week.
That project is expected to conclude in early October.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Department of Transportation is assembling a new advisory group including representatives from some of the businesses and institutions that stand to be most affected by the bridge construction.
Project Manager Roland Wagner said the group is likely to include some of the same organizations that were represented on the Project Leadership Team during the three-year-long Environmental Assessment process.
Some of the key stakeholders include the Roaring Fork School District, Valley View Hospital, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, rafting and river guide businesses, local law enforcement and emergency services, the city of Glenwood Springs and Garfield County.
“The goal with this group is to include those who are going to feel the direct impacts when the project starts,” Wagner said. “We are really making an effort to avoid and minimize those impacts when we can.”
That group will also be crucial as project officials refine a public relations plan to have in place ahead of and during the two-year bridge construction, he said.
The PR effort will be on the scale of what was done during the two-phase Grand Avenue concrete paving project in 2005 and 2010, only bigger given some of the newer social media tools to get the word out about weekly construction schedules, lane closures and other potential traffic delays.
That will be especially true during the expected 90-day detour from late August to late November 2017 when the final segment of the realigned Grand Avenue Bridge is put in place, necessitating closure of the existing bridge, Wagner said.
Even before that time some city traffic disruptions should be anticipated, he said, starting with construction of rock platforms along the south bank of the river from January to March 2016.
That work needs to be done ahead of spawning season for fish, and will require some traffic control on Seventh Street at Colorado Avenue while equipment and material is hauled in, Wagner said.
The first phase of construction will also involve some lane closures on Sixth Street/Highway 82 to accommodate utility work, he said.
Another major aspect of the initial project work will involve installation of a temporary pedestrian walkway attached to the existing Grand Avenue Bridge that will be in place while the existing pedestrian bridge is dismantled and replaced.
“You could look at 2016 as the year of the ped bridge, with some off-line work happening on the vehicular bridge, and 2017 the year the vehicular bridge” is completed, CDOT Region 3 Communications Manager Tracy Trulove said.
The city of Glenwood Springs is looking at the potential use of the current pedestrian bridge at another location in town, possibly a connection across the Roaring Fork River from Midland Avenue to 14th Street.
Earlier this month, the city also finalized several agreements with CDOT related to various aspects of the bridge project, including spelling out some of the aesthetic design features for which the city is contributing $3 million toward the larger $110 million-plus bridge project.
Other agreements related to future maintenance of the pedestrian bridge and elevator tower at Seventh Street, and joint use of the bridge right of way for both a state highway and city street.
Several key deadlines also loom for CDOT in the months leading up to actual construction, including lining up final permitting and putting together a bid package for construction manager Granite/RL Wadsworth to consider.
Under the construction manager general contractor arrangement with the joint venture, Granite/RL will have three opportunities to come in at or below the project budget. If not, CDOT would open the bridge project up to a competitive bid process, Wagner explained.
Once a project contract is awarded, CDOT also plans an open house and other public outreach efforts in December, just ahead of the actual construction starting.
“We want to make sure to get good information out early, and that people have adequate access to that information,” Wagner said.
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UPDATE: Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of Interstate 70, according to a 12:20 a.m. update from Garfield County.