Midland Avenue construction ‘ahead of schedule’ as work slows for winter
A year into the Midland Avenue reconstruction efforts, construction crews are winding down for the winter with more than half the project in the rearview.
“Gould Construction stepped up to the plate, and we’re in a good position to be successful next year,” said Ryan Johnson, Glenwood Springs’ assistant city engineer.
The project is slated to be complete by summer 2022.
Gould President and Chief Operating Officer Mark Gould Jr. said staying on schedule during the pandemic while facing labor shortages and supply chain hiccups was challenging, but his crews proved they were up to the task.
“We believe we’re ahead of schedule,” Gould said before knocking on wood. “I’m really proud of the team for the amount of work they were able to accomplish in a short period of time.”
At one point in the project, the delivery of Gould’s 18-inch waterline valves was delayed by about two months.
“The underground work has to be completed before anything else can get done,” Gould said. “But the guys were able to make up for the lost time.”
Like many employers, Gould experienced staffing shortages. In response, the Glenwood Springs-based company prioritized Midland Avenue, cannibalizing some of their other crews to ensure the project remained fully staffed, Gould said.
“Roadwork is incredibly dangerous,” he said. “And we’re really proud to say that despite the length of this project, we’ve not seen any injuries to people or infrastructure.”
By Christmas, Gould said his crews will have completed:
95% storm drainage installed throughout the project
80% of retaining wall construction
60% of roadway laid
60% of the project’s electrical work
60% of the sidewalks in place
Connecting with the users
Work kicked off Dec. 14, 2020, with a virtual announcement to ensure attendees could maintain social distancing, Glenwood Springs spokesperson Kathleen Wanatowicz said.
“From the outset of the project, there was a callout for public engagement,” Wanatowicz said. “The pandemic made it challenging to communicate with residents about project updates, but we were able to utilize the city’s communications and our South Midland Community Communications Coalition to get the word out.”
Gould said one measure of his crews’ success was the company received significantly more compliments than complaints throughout the year, an uncommon achievement for a project affecting so many travelers.
Throughout the project, Gould said his team worked with the city toward practical solutions for staying on schedule, such as extending work hours during the summer.
“While school was in, we had to end our roadwork by 3 p.m.,” he said. “But, during the summer, we moved that up to 4 p.m. That extra hour was a huge benefit to our operations.”
City Engineer Terri Partch has overseen some of the city’s most ambitious traffic projects in recent years, including the Grand Avenue bridge replacement, which contained the longest sustained detour in U.S. history. Keeping vehicles moving while ensuring the safety of those inside and outside the vehicles, especially in a school zone, is paramount to conducting a successful roadway reconstruction.
“I have been really pleased with how traffic flow has been implemented throughout the project,” Partch said.
Engineering the roadway
From top to bottom, the new Midland Avenue contains 17 inches of road base and asphalt, Gould said.
Because the road’s path lies across poor native soil materials, Gould said his crews dug deep before building up the new roadway. The new Midland Avenue is built of three layers: 5 inches of asphalt, 6 inches of Class 6 road base aggregate and 6 inches of Class 2 road base aggregate — crushed rock of various sizes that form the foundation of the roadway.
In some sections of the new road, workers facilitated water migration by installing a geo-textile fabric between the layers of road base. In others, they took it a step further by installing a geo-grid, which looks similar to a plastic between the aggregate layers and works to strengthen the roadway.
“When most people look at a road, they see a solid, in-place object,” said Bryana Starbuck, Glenwood Springs’ public information officer. “But it has to accommodate enough flexibility that it doesn’t break as the earth shifts naturally.”
Additionally, crews replaced the city’s 12-inch waterlines, which served most of southern Glenwood Springs, with 18-inch waterlines.
“The new water lines will increase water volume availability for the south-end users,” Johnson said. “What that really impacts is increased capacity for fire flows (the measure of water pressure at fire hydrants) and irrigation.”
Gould added that all residents south of Hager Lane are now tied in and using the new water system.
Although warm fall weather was beneficial to construction crews, colder nights and shorter days mean Gould’s crews are slimming down, but they won’t disappear altogether.
Construction will continue on storm drainage, guard rails, handrails and sidewalks, which can be installed throughout the warmer winter days.
Come spring, roadwork will begin again in earnest, Gould said.
“We’d like to hit it hard again beginning around March,” he said. “And we’ll be able to acquire new asphalt as early as May.”
As of Nov. 30, Gould Construction completed the following milestones in the Midland Avenue Project:
4,588 dump truck loads exported, including removal of earth work and pipe installation
4,200 dump truck loads of gravel imported for roadway utility backfill and block wall backfill
3,700 tons of asphalt laid
1,000 cubic yards of concrete installed for curb and gutter, sidewalks and concrete paving
90,000 square feet of wire cable and mesh installed for rockfall protection
4,000 linear feet of storm drain pipe installed
6,400 linear feet of 18-inch water line installed
41 manholes and inlets installed for storm drain
8,000 hours worked by flaggers
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at email@example.com.
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