Topping off the new gateway to Glenwood Springs |

Topping off the new gateway to Glenwood Springs

State transportation and city of Glenwood Springs officials expect to welcome Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper Friday for a ribbon-cutting and time capsule ceremony to top off the 30-month-long, $126 million Grand Avenue Bridge project.
John Stroud / Post Independent

bridge JV receives industry award

The Colorado Department of Transportation and Granite/RLW Joint Venture, the contractor for the Grand Avenue Bridge project, have been awarded the Rocky Mountain Chapter ACI Excellence in Concrete Award.

The award came in the infrastructure category. According to a news release sent out on Monday, projects submitted for this award were judged for: innovative construction techniques or solutions, innovative use of materials, engineering merit, architectural merit, sustainability, resilience, functionality and end use suitability.

“The Grand Avenue Bridge project was the most significant CDOT project in Region 3 since the completion of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon in 1991,” said Gaylen Stewart, construction manager for the Grand Avenue Bridge project. “The design and use of the concrete was planned into the design primarily to maintain design continuity throughout the historic downtown area, but also played a central role to the structural elements across the project site.”

The new traffic bridge, the replacement pedestrian bridge and surrounding infrastructure required 21,398 tons of concrete, both paving and structural, and 3,373 tons of asphalt.

The entire concrete formed superstructure of the section of the traffic bridge passing over Seventh Street was constructed during the bridge closure and subsequent three-month detour period.

Replacing the aging and “functionally obsolete” 1950s-era highway structure required innovative solutions from both the engineers and contractors during a two-and-a-half-year design period, CDOT explains.

The bridge consists of two separate structures married with an expansion device. The structure was cast in place concrete deck that varies from 9 inches at the edge, to a radially thickened maximum of 3 feet, 3 inches in the middle of the deck, with 51 coffers on three lines.

The new pedestrian bridge features four “bump outs” and two canopies, intended for the public enjoy views of historic downtown Glenwood Springs, the Colorado River and Glenwood Canyon.

Aesthetic concrete design features were also considered throughout the project including: the highway and pedestrian bridges, the highway bridge barrier, the pedestrian stair cases, Seventh Street Station elevator building, pedestrian underpass and a pedestrian plaza.

“This level of detail helps to contribute to a redevelopment of the historic downtown Glenwood Springs,” according CDOT’s release. “Contextual design contributed to making these bridges structures that have grown out of the form, materials and colors of the city. The design strengthens downtown Glenwood as the core of the community and gateway to the Roaring Fork Valley.”

A lot has changed since 1953, the year laborers broke ground on the old Grand Avenue bridge in Glenwood Springs.

For one, Daniel Issaac J. Thornton no longer serves as governor of Colorado as he did during the old bridge’s construction. Instead, this Friday, June 22, 65 years later, Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to deliver remarks ahead of the new Grand Avenue Bridge’s historic ribbon cutting ceremony.

“It’s been a 30-month construction project, but really the folks here in Glenwood that have been on the project from the public involvement side, I mean we are talking eight or 10 years for public involvement,” Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 Communications Manager Tracy Trulove said. “We are really coming to the stage of wrapping this thing up from the CDOT perspective.”

The $126 million undertaking, the largest infrastructure project on Colorado’s Western Slope in over 30 years, was funded via Colorado’s special Bridge Enterprise Fund pool of money, Trulove explained.

Although roughly 3,000 people already walked across the new Grand Avenue Bridge commemorating its official opening to traffic back on Nov. 6, 2017, this Friday’s event will also mark a changing of the guard from CDOT to the city of Glenwood Springs as the bridge construction contract formally ends at the end of the month.

The city will take ownership of the companion pedestrian bridge, which was replaced as part of the larger Colorado Highway 82 bridge project. The pedestrian bridge also carries numerous utility lines that used to run beneath the old highway bridge.

“We are really encouraging [the city] to kind of take the baton and run with it, so that they can keep letting people be involved in the process, letting businesses be involved in the process and just educating what their vision is, because that was probably the thing that really helped us deliver the bridge project is people understood the vision, they understood the impacts and they understood how to be involved and stay informed,” Trulove said.

With the completion of the bridge and some basic Seventh Street-area improvements under the bridge, the city is tasked with its own beautification project for the area. If all goes according to plan, the city will see work done on a sanitary sewer line in the fall, followed by multiple phases to be started in the spring of 2019.

Friday’s events will begin with a children’s chorale at 9:45 a.m. beneath the bridge near Seventh Street, followed by speeches from distinguished officials including Gov. Hickenlooper. It will also feature a time capsule dedication. Among other memorabilia, the time capsule will contain a scroll signed by community members in attendance.

Residents unable to attend the event, but who would still like to sign the scroll, may do so during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Glenwood Springs Police Department on the ground floor of City Hall. The city will collect signatures ahead of the event until 5 p.m. Thursday.

Then, according to the plan, 67 years from now, in July 2085, the city will reopen the capsule during its bicentennial celebration.

Since the bridge project came with some burdens along the way, with impacts to downtown business owners and a three-month-long detour for motorists after the old bridge was torn down last August, the Friday event will undoubtedly pay tribute to the community’s diligence and patience during it all.

“People rallied around a tough situation and they did it with a lot of grace, and I think that says a lot about why we live here,” Trulove said. “I believe being a local, a longtime local, that the gateway to Glenwood is so inviting now,” she said.

Friday’s event will also feature a performance from Twang Box Band. Following that, CDOT and the city encourage everyone to go out and support their favorite downtown businesses.

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