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Bridge repairs to be finished today

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Emergency repairs on the Maroon Creek bridge could be finished as soon as this afternoon, but not before one more round of detours and delays, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

A CDOT traffic advisory says that all large vehicles, including buses, will be required to use a detour around the bridge beginning at 9 a.m. to allow reinforced concrete used to repair the bridge to cure.

The bridge was closed to everything except cars and small pickup trucks Monday, after CDOT inspectors discovered damage to two of the sandstone blocks that are part of the abutment that holds up the bridge’s downvalley end. The damage apparently occurred when the bridge expanded past its normal range because of warm temperatures.

“To reduce vibrations on the new concrete block and allow it to cure, the 5-ton restriction will remain in place until at least noon on Friday,” the advisory reads. The detour route circumvents the upper end of the highway into Aspen via McLain Flats, with turnoffs at Cemetery Lane and Smith Road.

Motorists who don’t take the detour can expect 10- to 20-minute delays after 9 a.m. Engineers will re-evaluate the situation this afternoon and perhaps lift the weight restriction by 3 p.m., according to the traffic advisory.

Brian Pettet, Pitkin County’s public works director, said CDOT crews have done an outstanding job in diagnosing the problem and engineering a solution.

“I think CDOT’s response has been stellar – in four days they’ve literally got the problem solved,” Pettet said.

A steady stream of complaints have been coming into his office since repair work began Monday. He said people are mad about the detour, worried about their safety and dismayed that a century-old bridge continues to carry most of the traffic into Aspen.

Pettet said Aspenites should remember that about 13 years ago the City Council scuttled CDOT’s plan to replace the bridge by fighting a request for a fraction of an acre of what is now a parking lot next to the municipal golf course.

“The community seems to have a short memory,” Pettet said, “Back in 1990, CDOT had a bridge designed and was ready to spend $8 million to replace it.”

Pettet said CDOT’s congressional liaison has already contacted Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Glenwood Springs, and Sen. Wayne Allard about finding federal funds to build a new bridge.

Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com


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