City column: Inside the complexities of 27th Street Bridge construction
Construction is well underway on the 27th Street Bridge Project. All of us involved in the project — city of Glenwood Springs, R.L. Wadsworth Construction, and HDR Engineering — thank you for your patience as we make progress on this critical connection.
Being on site, I’ve seen and heard your frustration when the line stacks up. I, too, feel impatient when I am held up for construction traffic. We acknowledge that construction impacts are never ideal, but as traffic impacts increase, we need to remember that the end result means increased safety for users, improved capacity and vital infrastructure upgrades that will help support the demands on this connection for years to come.
Like other large infrastructure projects, this construction is complex and dynamic. Construction planning and scheduling requires the contractor to arrange activities across the site in an order that considers task prerequisites, material procurement, crew availability, spatial constraints and weather. This means that traffic impacts are not always predictable.
The geographic area surrounding the project is restrictive due to the narrow corridor, steep slopes on the river, and lack of nearby staging areas.
As soon as a construction task is finished (or is at a point where a new set of resources is needed to complete the next step), project managers are swapping equipment, crews and materials in and out of the site area. In order to stay on schedule, this orchestration is continually adapting to site and contractor needs.
As of March 18, there are additional crews on site to begin construction on the micropiles for the new pedestrian and traffic bridges. Micropiles are deep foundation elements constructed using a high-strength steel rod surrounded by grout in a small, 10-inch diameter steel pipe.
On average, the micropiles on this project are going 60 feet into the ground. The project is using micropiles to enable accelerated bridge construction (ABC construction) to construct the foundation of the new bridges on location while keeping the existing bridge open and minimizing the overall duration of the project.
To maximize the progress on the bridge abutments, crews will access the site as early as sunup to begin daily preparations for drilling work to begin at 7 a.m. As needed, crews will continue work as late as 9 p.m.
Construction on Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., is expected to be more frequent and, as necessary, some construction activities may occur on Sundays. Whenever possible, crews are pushing lane closures to off-peak hours (before 7 a.m., between 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., and after 6 p.m.).
This intricate network of activities all have different traffic impacts as well. When forecasting what travelers can expect for impacts, there is a bit of precision guesswork. The dynamic nature of the project means that even though the project team is working diligently to minimize impacts and is limiting work with traffic impacts to off peak hours, intermittent lane closures on the bridge may be required during peak times.
We are asking motorists to partner with us as impacts increase:
1. Tune in to project communications. Scheduled impacts are communicated via the ConeZone email update, city Facebook, city Twitter and the project phone.
2. Plan extra travel time through the area especially during peak times. Delays have ranged between approximately 5 and 25 minutes and are intermittent in nature.
3. Use alternate routes (Colorado 82). Midland Avenue should be used for local traffic only.
4. Bike, walk or carpool whenever possible. The fewer cars trying to get through the area will mean shorter delays. Do not block intersections or the roundabout.
5. Always move over for emergency services.
If you have a question or concern about the 27th Street Bridge project construction, please reach out to us via email at 27thStreetBridge@gmail.com or phone, call or text to 970-618-5379.
Jessica Bowser is the assistant city engineer for the City of Glenwood Springs and is the city’s project manager for 27th Street Bridge construction.
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