CDOT seeks builder for Maroon Creek bridge |

CDOT seeks builder for Maroon Creek bridge

Janet Urquhart

The state began advertising today for a contractor to build a new Maroon Creek bridge, with plans to start work this spring on a replacement span to carry Highway 82 into Aspen.Bids for the estimated $12.3 million project will be opened March 17, according to Joe Elsen, Colorado Department of Transportation program engineer in Glenwood Springs. CDOT initially intended to start advertising for bids on Feb. 3, but delayed the process; the bid-opening date remains unchanged.CDOT is not offering extra money as an incentive to expedite construction of the new bridge. An incentive package, which the agency used to encourage the early completion of the widening of Highway 82 through Snowmass Canyon, was deemed unnecessary in this case, since the existing bridge will allow traffic to flow as usual while a new bridge is built next to it. In addition, incentives cost money, Elsen said.”Really what it does is just add costs. The budget is tight,” he said.In fact, Pitkin County is putting $900,000 from use-tax proceeds toward the project.Work is slated to begin this spring with the relocation of electrical lines beneath the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Maroon Creek gorge next to the highway bridge and then the dismantling of the pedestrian span. The new bridge should be ready for use in fall 2006, Elsen said.The bridge project won’t start until after the chairlifts shut down in April, Elsen said, given the electrical work that must occur first.”There is no way, while the Skico is going to be hitting the big switch every morning, that we could get Holy Cross to shut that off,” Elsen said. “They don’t want to do that while there are huge demands. Mid-April to mid-May would be a good time to do that.”Local consumers shouldn’t lose electricity while the work proceeds, he added. Power will be rerouted while the lines are relocated.Once the pedestrian bridge is gone, pedestrians will share the highway bridge with vehicles. A roughly 5-foot swath along the north side of the highway bridge, separated from traffic by a concrete barrier, will be created.”It’s not the best situation in the world, but we have to take down that old pedestrian bridge,” Elsen said.The new bridge will be constructed where the pedestrian bridge is currently situated. The deck on the new span will be 73 feet wide – enough to accommodate four lanes of traffic, including dedicated bus lanes in each direction. However, voter approval for the bus lanes is not in place. Instead, initially the new bridge is expected to carry just two lanes of traffic, one in each direction, plus eight-foot shoulders, a 12-foot bike/pedestrian lane and a 12-foot median.The existing bridge, originally built as a railroad trestle in 1888, will be retained. It is slated to carry light rail if that transit system ever materializes.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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