New bridge could swing to the west |

New bridge could swing to the west

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Grand Avenue Bridge could be rebuilt as a single bridge on any of nine alignments, or as a pair of one-way “couplet” bridges on two of eight alignments.

The options for the new bridge were unveiled last week in a stakeholders meeting, and will be the subject of presentations to elected officials in early March and a public open house on April 4.

The bridge could launch from Colorado, Grand or Cooper avenues on the south side of the Colorado River. And it could launch from Sixth and Pine, at its present north end, or from any of three other spots farther west on Sixth or Laurel. See alignment maps on page A3.

“The engineers did a thorough job of discovering any and all alternatives,” said Tom Newland of Basalt, spokesman for Jacobs Engineering, the project’s consulting engineers. “There are a lot more options out there than I thought there would be.”

The idea of building a roundabout at the Sixth and Laurel intersection was also put forward at the meeting, said Newland. Although it wouldn’t be part of the bridge rebuilding project, a roundabout could help smooth out traffic flow in north Glenwood.

Over the coming months, the single and couplet bridge alignment options will go through a screening process aimed at eliminating alignments that would be too difficult to build, too complicated for motorists to maneuver, or that introduce too many negative impacts to the community.

“The screening approach is a very positive way to find the right solution,” said Joe Elsen, Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 east program engineer. “What I like best about it is that it keeps the process unbiased and free of any predisposed ideas about what the ultimate solution will be. At the end of the day, the preferred alternative will be the right alternative for Glenwood Springs, CDOT and the public.”

Other considerations aside, a key advantage of choosing a different alignment for the bridge is that much of the construction could occur without interrupting the existing flow of traffic, Newland said.

“For example, if we went with the green alignment to disfunction junction,” Newland said, referring to the Sixth and Laurel intersection, “the contractors could stage it so the old bridge would be closed for just for a very short time.”

Prior to introducing these variable alignments, discussion has centered on the difficulty of rebuilding the bridge on its present alignment while continuing to move thousands of cars and trucks through Glenwood Springs every day.

Another unanswered question if the new bridge takes a different path is whether the existing bridge would remain in place or be demolished.

At the same time the alignment options are being looked at, the stakeholders are also trying to narrow down a range of bridge cross-section options, Newland said.

Options include two-lane, four-lane and six-lane designs, each one with and without road shoulders, sidewalks and centerline barriers.

Once the preferred single or couplet alignment and the preferred cross-section have been chosen, then the work will shift to the architectural design of the bridge and figuring out how to build it for the $59 million allocated in the Colorado Bridge Enterprise funding plan.

“That’s when pricing comes into play, and we’ll really sharpen our pencils,” Newland said.

If all goes as planned, the planning process will run through fall 2013, followed by a full year to develop the final bridge design. Construction is expected to take up to two and a half years, from early 2015 until fall of 2017.

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