Glenwood Springs’ 27th Street Bridge project begins with slight traffic impacts
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
With the new Grand Avenue Bridge in the history books, the city of Glenwood Springs now focuses its attention on replacing the worst-rated bridge in Colorado – at least in terms of functionality – the 27th Street Bridge.
After holding a ceremonial groundbreaking in November, actual construction activities on the nearly $10 million project are to begin Wednesday on the 27th Street Bridge, historically referred to as the Sunlight Bridge.
“Whenever there is construction there are always going to be some delays associated with that,” said Bryana Starbuck, public information manager for the project. “Folks definitely need to prepare to have some extra time going through the area.”
However, Starbuck said she does not anticipate major traffic delays as a result of the beginning phases of construction, which involve mobilization, temporary shoring, and erosion control on the east and west sides of the bridge.
“The (27th Street Bridge) is still open and people can still definitely go that way,” Starbuck explained. The construction method calls for crews to build the new bridge offline, before sliding it into place later down the road.
According to Starbuck, when the slide does occur, then Eighth Street will serve as the designated detour route. In the meantime, the existing bridge can still handle the roughly 14,000 vehicles that cross it daily.
The bridge was deemed by state inspectors in recent years to be “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete,” earning a score of 10.5 out of 100 rating. That doesn’t mean it’s unsafe, just that it is insufficient for the amount the traffic it sees, Starbuck said.
“It is not like we are letting people drive over an unsafe bridge,” she said. “The bridge is still safe to drive on at this point. It is just at the end of its useful life.”
The entire project, which in addition to the construction of a new vehicle bridge, will also include a new pedestrian bridge and remove bridge piers from the Roaring Fork River in an effort, city officials say, to improve not only the pedestrian experience but also that of river users.
Last year, Glenwood Springs City Council awarded the roughly $9.8 million construction contract to RL Wadsworth, and a not-to-exceed $1.25 million construction management contract to HDR.
Since the project was first being planned, the city has received numerous, lucrative financial grants for the bridge replacement project from state and federal sources, totaling about $2.2 million.
“We have been able to secure quite a bit of funding for this bridge in particular,” Assistant City Engineer Jessica Bowser said.
Grants include a $950,000 Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Grant, a $500,000 Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant, and, most recently, an additional $500,000 from the Federal Highway Administration Off-System Bridge Program.
The remainder of the bridge funding is to come from the city’s special Acquisitions & Improvements sales tax fund, which city voters agreed to renew in 2016.
“We are really going to try to focus our traffic control on avoiding those peak periods so there is as least interference as possible,” HDR Senior Project Manager Joe Elsen said.
“When I see people out in the community, which I do a lot, the way that I like to explain this bridge replacement to them is that we are going to build a new, shorter bridge,” Elsen explained. “I have used the term that it is like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.”
The 27th Street Bridge replacement project has a tentative completion date of Nov. 30, 2019.
To receive the latest email updates on construction and traffic impacts, contact the project team via email at 27thStreetBridge@gmail.com or call or text (970) 618-5379.
Across the Roaring Fork School District, three schools achieved higher ratings from 2019 to 2022, two schools had lower ratings during that time period and most remained the same.