One way to beat the Glenwood Springs bridge traffic: stay in Aspen | AspenTimes.com

One way to beat the Glenwood Springs bridge traffic: stay in Aspen

Workers for two private firms and a handful of city employees who commute to work will be staying in Aspen to avoid what's anticipated to be Highway 82 gridlock during the replacement phase of Glenwood Springs' main bridge.

In July the city announced that it was offering 40 units from its 100-unit Marolt Ranch complex, which is seasonal dormitory-style housing, to employers for $1,500 a month. The housing will be made available during the scheduled 95-day period the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood will be closed while work is done completing a new traffic bridge. The work starts today.

Because the Colorado Department of Transportation expects one-hour waits on the detour route from the Interstate 70 exit 114 interchange to 27th Street in Glenwood Springs, commuters are eyeing other options to reduce the congestion through carpooling and other means.

When Chad Heath, owner of a Colorado Springs framing and siding firm, learned that the city was offering housing, he decided that would be more cost-effective than having his workers stay in a downvalley lodge.

"We would either have to go to Carbondale or even farther out depending on what's available," he said.

And, he noted, there's not much lodging available downvalley because of the bridge work. Heath's business, CZZH Enterprises LLC, is a subcontractor doing work on the city's Burlingame housing project.

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"It's just the time we would have to take getting in out of Aspen," he said. "And working there is very difficult as far as lodging goes."

Heath said his workers will arrive in Aspen on Aug. 28.

Another private contractor also will be using Marolt, said Mark Nussmeier, who is Marolt Ranch's assistant property manager. The two firms are using eight of the units.

"When the actual closure happens (today), contractors might feel the pain of the commute, so that might spark more interest," he said.

Nine city employees who commute to Aspen also will be staying at Marolt. The city is paying their rent, Assistant City Manager Barry Crook said.

Other ways Aspen is trying to help offset the traffic is by extending the permitted construction hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, adding 90 minutes to each side of the work day to help contractors and their subs avoid the rush-hour traffic. Only interior work will be allowed during those three extra hours.

Independence and Cottonwood passes could serve as alternative routes, but not for semi-trucks or oversized vehicles. Additionally, vehicles exceeding 8 feet, 6 inches in width, 14 feet, 6 inches in height and 35 feet in length will need a permit to use Cottonwood Pass during the bridge work.

Garfield County also is banning semis and other oversized vehicles from traveling on Four Mile, Dry Park, Thompson Creek and Hardwick Bridge roads.

"If you come up this way in a commercial vehicle, you're getting a ticket," Garfield County Road and Bridge director Wyatt Keesbery said.

Despite the regulations, every so often an errant semi will travel over Independence Pass. On Saturday morning, a semi that was Aspen-bound jack-knifed at mile marker 52 on Independence Pass, resulting in traffic delays.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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