Editorial: Slow far, slow good with detour
Well, good. After an eventful first couple of days of the Grand Avenue bridge detour, demolition and completion, we have just 12 and a half weeks to go. Less than a third of a human pregnancy!
All in all, except perhaps that poor Aspen is short on produce so desperately needed by juice bars, by the end of last week, things were going reasonably well.
Much more importantly, an ambulance transporting a cardiac patient from New Castle to Valley View Hospital on Monday morning zipped through the detour quickly.
And, luckily, no one was hurt and damage to rebar already placed for the new bridge was minimal when girders from the old bridge fell prematurely on Tuesday.
Regarding traffic, pain proved to be a pretty good teacher.
Drivers who tried it had plenty of time — up to 90 minutes of sitting in bumper-to-bumper, creeping traffic — to figure out that taking the south part of Midland Avenue in the afternoon is not better than staying on the detour route.
After a couple of days, many people decided that taking the bus from western Garfield County was better than sitting on Interstate 70 waiting to even get to the detour. Lots of people were on bicycles.
And the Colorado Department of Transportation restriped Colorado 82 south of Glenwood to create a bus lane, helping ease a tough afternoon clog coming into town.
Of course the detour will remain a significant challenge. We haven’t had a vehicle breakdown or accident, and over three months, that’s bound to happen. School starts Sept. 5, adding traffic and likely requiring a couple more days of learning and adjusting. We’ll have bad weather days, daylight hours will shorten and it will get colder, making non-motorized alternatives less viable.
But overall, good work, everybody. We’ve gotten a few crabby calls and emails, which is to be expected, but people have kept their cool and maintained their patience. Glenwood police and Chief Terry Wilson, keeping excellent humor directing traffic during the day, deserve special kudos.
Our suggestions: Consider ways to work at home and even small ways to stay out of your car. As a small example, for required meetings in Gypsum, Post Independent and Aspen Times staff have walked across the pedestrian bridge and carpooled with a staffer who lives in Silt so we can all stay off the detour.
Shop downtown. Bring a group to dinner. Come early and visit shops. Let your out-of-town friends know that Glenwood Caverns and both hot springs are open and accessible. Stroll the pedestrian bridge and see the big project in process. Plan trips to Glenwood Meadows at off hours.
We asked officials involved in the project for their best guidance for the weeks ahead, based on what they observed last week. Here were some of their suggestions for weathering the project:
• Shift your schedule (if possible) or stop for dinner on the afternoon commute. Alternating your times may help with the traffic at various peak hours.
• Turn to social media — lots of community chatter out there on the community pages looking for carpooling and vanpools and creative ideas to ease congestion.
• Carpool lots are not full and need more carpoolers — use the zone map — http://tinyurl.com/GABzonemap — grab a buddy and coordinate carpooling. Employers that have not done so should apply for vanpool passes.
• It may be possible to find ride partners at Aspen’s carpool match site, http://www.commuterconnect.net. Though it has limited downvalley users now, it will match people traveling to/from any destination in our area, and can be used for both regular carpools and one-time trips.
• Are there people who have an extra bedroom they would be willing to make available, perhaps in trade for housecleaning or yard work, so someone would not have to travel all the way to Rifle/Parachute every day?
• Are there people who would be willing to allow an RV to park in their yard where permitted?
There’s room for improvement and individual effort. The PI’s “poll” last week — it’s not a scientific poll and is primarily for entertainment — asked “What is your bridge closure travel plan?” Fifty-one percent, some probably joking, responded “Plan? Hey, I’m special.” No, you’re not. We all can do our part and find some camaraderie and amusement in it all.
Chief Wilson noted that people who take the bus to downtown Glenwood come over the pedestrian bridge smiling and chatting. Way better than scowling through traffic and suffering this alone.
And won’t we have much for which to be grateful this Thanksgiving?