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Sunlight Bridge due for replacement, says state

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The 27th Street Bridge, also known as the Sunlight Bridge, is inadequate by today’s design standards and in need of replacement, according to a recent assessment done by state transportation officials.

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s biennial bridge assessment will likely come into play with Houston-based SG Interests’ proposal to drill for natural gas in the Four Mile Park area southwest of Glenwood Springs.

Access to the area to develop the proposed well site, according to SG’s plans, would be via Four Mile Road to Midland Avenue and through Glenwood Springs.



The Sunlight Bridge, which provides the primary link from Midland to State Highway 82, has been given a sufficiency rating of 42.2 out of 100 in the latest CDOT assessment.

The state rates all bridges in Colorado every two years and reports to local jurisdictions about their condition and any necessary maintenance or replacement concerns.



“All bridges that are ranked below 50 are placed on a state list as needing replacement and qualifying for potential replacement grant funding,” according to the 2012 bridge assessment, which Glenwood Springs City Engineer Terri Partch outlined in a recent memo to City Manager Jeff Hecksel.

Further, “The bridge is of poor design by today’s standards for structural loading,” according to the bridge assessment report.

In addition to bridge concerns, Glenwood Springs City Council member Stephen Bershenyi recently expressed grave concerns about the adequacy of South Midland Avenue to handle heavy truck traffic until major upgrades can be made.

“To do any real improvements there will require a significant investment,” Bershenyi said at the Oct. 18 City Council meeting.

He suggested limiting heavy truck traffic on Midland and across the bridge until improvements can be made.

“I think we need to discuss whether we, as a city, even want to allow heavy trucks in that area without having a discussion with all the parties involved to determine what improvements need to be made,” Bershenyi said.

Bershenyi’s comments came before the new drilling permit application by SG Interests had even come to light. The application for a permit to drill (APD) was filed with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Oct. 17, but wasn’t reported until last week.

City Council is currently scheduled to have a work session as part of its Dec. 6 meeting to discuss Midland Avenue and the bridge.

The city has $400,000 budgeted for 2013 to do some basic maintenance on the bridge, which could improve the sufficiency rating, Hecksel said. The money will also be used to do a cost-benefit analysis to determine if replacement makes more sense at this time, he said.

The Sunlight Bridge, which spans the Roaring Fork River, was originally built in 1964 by Garfield County, before the 27th Street area was annexed into the city. The last major work that was done on the bridge was in 2011 to prevent scouring beneath the bridge supports.

Meanwhile, the city has $75,000 budgeted for next year to begin doing a preliminary design for Midland Avenue roadway improvements. The narrow stretch of road is particularly challenging because it is cut into the hillside, with numerous rock outcroppings and frequent rockfalls.

Midland already gets a lot of traffic from the residential areas in south Glenwood and up Four Mile, in addition to Sopris Elementary School located in Glenwood Park.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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