Glenwood Canyon work means delays |

Glenwood Canyon work means delays

Aspen Times Staff Report

A repair job at one spot along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, starting next week, will affect traffic on a 10-mile stretch of the interstate, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

CDOT and contractor G.A. Western Co. will replace an expansion joint on the westbound lanes of I-70, just east of the Hanging Lake tunnels, in a three-phase project scheduled to begin Monday, April 28, and end in mid-May. The work will take place at milepost 126.4, but impacts to traffic will extend through the canyon, CDOT predicts.

“Though this replacement job involves work on a very small section of the highway, traffic will be impacted for nearly a 10-mile stretch because of the divided highway through the canyon,” said Del French, CDOT maintenance superintendent, in a CDOT press release. “The points in the highway at which we can detour motorists are six miles apart. To safely and efficiently escort traffic through a one-way configuration is going to take a lot of coordination and patience.”

The first phase of the project, demolition of the existing expansion joint, will start April 28 at 7 a.m. and continue to May 6. During this period, motorists will encounter one-lane, alternating traffic through the work zone, 24 hours a day. The speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph. Wide loads, of more than 14 feet, will be restricted in the westbound direction from milepost 134 to milepost 116.

The second phase, placement of the new, modular expansion joint, will take place from 7 a.m. on May 6 to 7 a.m. on May 9. During this work, the westbound lanes will be completely closed and all traffic will be detoured onto the eastbound side of the interstate to skirt the work zone.

There will be one-way, alternating traffic with a pilot car escorting motorists between milepost 124.8 and westbound milepost 131.3. Motorists should anticipate 30-minute delays. Traffic will be reduced to one lane about two miles in advance of each end of the detour to give motorists ample time to merge. There will be a wide-load restriction of 14 feet in both directions during the detour.

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The final phase, allowing the cement around the newly installed joint to cure, will last from May 9 to May 14. Westbound traffic will return to the westbound lanes, but will be reduced to one lane through the work zone and wide-load restrictions will be in effect. Traffic on the eastbound lanes will be unaffected.

“We are going to take every measure to make sure our traffic control runs as smoothly as possible,” French said.

CDOT will employ three pilot cars and flaggers who will walk along the waiting queues of vehicles to inform motorists of the delays, according to French. Maintenance and emergency crews at the Hanging Lake tunnels will assist with the communications.

The steel, modular expansion joint is 34 feet long (to handle the width of the highway), about 30 inches wide and 14 inches deep. Joints on bridges or elevated sections of highway can fail for various reasons, according to CDOT, including age, heavy truck traffic, expansion/contraction and general wear and tear.

“This operation is fairly routine maintenance statewide,” French said. “I compare it to a shoe – you can repair it once, but the next time, you should replace the shoe.”

The project contract was awarded to G.A. Western Co. of Palisade for $148,000.

Crews from G.A. Western are currently repairing highway damage caused by rockfall on I-70 just west of the Hanging Lake tunnels. Traffic is being diverted around the work zones in both directions with minimal or no delays. This work will be finished before replacement of the expansion joint begins, according to CDOT.