Bridge Answer man column: Traffic control a big part of project
Road traffic control is often the first aspect many see of a construction project. The location of signs, cones and flaggers may seem routine and invariable, but traffic control planning is actually an intricate part of the construction process. Skillfully planned and executed traffic control is vital to the success of the overall project.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, traffic control is necessary “during any time the normal function of a roadway is suspended, and temporary traffic control planning must provide for continuity of function (movement of traffic, pedestrians, transit operations, and access to property/utilities).”
A single traffic control plan is developed by the contractor through multiple phases, approved by the project engineers and construction managers on the project team, then formatted into a method for handling traffic. The chosen method then receives a final stamp of approval from Colorado Department of Transportation engineers before it is implemented.
Every directional sign, orange cone and manned traffic controller is coordinated to match a specific purpose and individual need. Think of creating a plan like playing chess. Plans are strategically schemed for the correct move, while considering all possible scenarios. For the engineer and construction manager, factors include public and construction team safety, functionality, timing, traffic volume, space and various other factors such as special events.
The Grand Avenue bridge project has implemented more than 100 methods for traffic handling so far, and traffic control encompasses about 2 percent of the $75 million construction budget. Following approval, the traffic control manager monitors implementation of the chosen method and turns to Robyn Moore, owner and operator of local company Your Way Safety & Sign Supply.
Moore’s team administers the traffic handling method in real time with signage, safety zone cones and flaggers. Flaggers are responsible for public safety and make the greatest number of public contacts of all highway workers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Flaggers must follow specific requirements to ensure the safety of the public, construction crews and themselves. Many of the Grand Avenue bridge flaggers have been stationed in the same location for safety and consistency for the entirety of the project.
Collaboration is a key component in achieving successful traffic control. The span of one plan can be far-reaching, demanding participation from numerous entities. For major work, like the placement of the girders for the pedestrian bridge, the team partners with the Hanging Lake Tunnel team, which operates safety messaging systems for Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon. During the Eighth Street bridge closure, variable messaging signs on I-70 alerted motorists of the closure.
For operations such as the I-70 night detours, traffic handling is drafted months in advance and requires up to 10 flaggers.
Traffic control on a project this size is not an easy feat. It takes time, precision and the occasional tweak to make it work smoothly and safely for the public and our crews.
• Beginning, Thursday, Nov. 17, Seventh Street will be closed from the intersection of Seventh and Eighth streets to the old sewer plant parking lot. This is necessary to complete curb and gutter improvements and expand sidewalks on Seventh Street, and is anticipated to last two weeks. Motorists should use Eighth Street for access to Grand Avenue and Midland Avenue. Access to the Farnum Holt funeral home will be maintained, as well as parking access in the old sewer lot.
• From Friday, Nov. 18, through Monday, Nov. 21, the right-turn pocket at the intersection of Eighth Street and Midland Avenue will be closed. This is necessary to complete utilities and the pedestrian crossing signals at Eighth Street and Midland Avenue. Motorists will be able to make right turns onto Midland Avenue from the center lane. Semis and large trucks with trailers should use Colorado 82, the Grand Avenue bridge or U.S. 6 during this closure.
• In late November, crews will begin working on traffic bridge walls near the pedestrian shopping plaza between Seventh and Eighth streets. During this construction, the southbound left-turn lane from the Grand Avenue bridge to Eighth Street will be closed to allow work space for constructing the walls near the Eighth and Grand intersection. Motorists should follow the detour south on Colorado 82 to Ninth Street for access to city streets east of Grand Avenue.
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The Glenwood Springs City Council voted to extend the existing face covering mandate for indoor public-facing spaces within city limits during Thursday night’s meeting.