Crystal Bridge closure makes for long commute |

Crystal Bridge closure makes for long commute

John Stroud/Valley Journal

CARBONDALE – Those living across the Crystal River west of here are bracing for a planned bridge closure on Garfield County Road 108 that will make for a long commute into town.Garfield County commissioners agreed at their June 12 meeting to close the bridge near Colorado Rocky Mountain School from July 11 until Aug. 15 for replacement of the bridge deck, rails and sidewalk.However, most residents of the area weren’t aware of the planned closure until electronic signs were on either side of the bridge on June 26 announced the fact.”It doesn’t seem like there was a lot of extra notice given, or any attempt to come up with some reasonable accommodations,” said Nancy Festa, who lives about one mile west of Carbondale, at Midland Point on County Road 109.

Festa said what’s usually about a two-minute drive or fairly easy bike ride into town will be a half-hour, 13.2-mile drive down 109 Road toward Glenwood Springs to the CMC intersection at Highway 82, and back into Carbondale that way.”It seems that, even if we could have foot access and park our cars across the river at CRMS that could work,” she said. “None of that was even addressed.”County Road and Bridge Department officials were not available for comment Friday, and all three county commissioners were also out of town and unavailable.The bridge closure will impact a number of residents on 109 Road and up 108 Road toward the popular Thompson Creek area, including some ranches, as well as along the remote, private Crystal River Road to the south.Jim Gaw and his wife, Khara, both CRMS faculty members, live just across the river from campus.

Gaw said he’s glad the county is replacing the bridge and the dilapidated wooden sidewalk that had already been closed for some time. He said he asked the county commissioners if there was a way to schedule the construction so that one lane, or at least a pedestrian walkway, could remain open in the meantime.”We’ll see what actually happens, but from what I’ve heard [the bridge] will be closed to both pedestrians and vehicles,” Gaw said. “There are a lot of people who use this bridge, so it will be an impact.”Gaw, who usually just rides his bike across the river to the school, said he now plans to wade across the river a couple of times a day.”Right now, it’s still a little high for wading,” he said. “But maybe in a couple of weeks it will be low enough.”

Jeremy Simmon recently moved to a place on 109 Road and began work last week as the new director of communications for CRMS.”I was very excited about my commute going from 62 miles round-trip [to his former job in Aspen], to one mile round-trip,” he said.As for the option of wading the river, “Jim’s a little taller than me, so I might be a little over my head trying that,” he said. “I wasn’t real excited when I found out Westbank was the best way to drive around.”As for the timing of the bridge work related to CRMS, it couldn’t be better, he said.”The students aren’t here right now, so it’s [a] wonderful time to do construction. And we need a new bridge, so go for it,” he said.

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