Grand Avenue bridge project to sever valley’s main traffic artery
Special to The Aspen Times
One of Pitkin County’s economic lifelines will be severed for two months in 2015, when the Colorado Department of Transportation replaces the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs.
The 60-year-old bridge, which carries Highway 82 over Interstate 70, the Colorado River and the Union Pacific railroad tracks, will be demolished and replaced by a new span with wider lanes and a smoother transition to the interstate. This flurry of demolition and construction is two years away, but CDOT regional engineer Joe Elsen and others from the project’s leadership team briefed the Pitkin County commissioners Tuesday on the planning.
“Public information during the project is going to be critical,” said Tom Newland, who is managing the public-outreach effort.
When the existing Grand Avenue Bridge is taken down, officials said, traffic will be diverted onto Midland Avenue, the two-lane road that carries cars from the West Glenwood exit on I-70 to the Sunlight bridge over the Roaring Fork River at 27th Street. This alternate route isn’t designed to carry nearly as many cars as Highway 82, so engineers are preparing various roadway “improvements” for the occasion.
Elsen said CDOT will schedule construction for either the spring or fall of 2015 but couldn’t be any more exact than that.
“We’re pretty set on it only being about two months,” he said.
During construction, the bridge team is planning to reduce auto traffic through Glenwood by 20 to 25 percent. The Roaring Fork Transit Authority will play a major role in taking cars off the road. Even with a 25 percent reduction in traffic, the time necessary to travel through Glenwood will increase from the current 11 minutes to 20 to 25 minutes, engineers said.
Pitkin County commissioners generally applauded the planning for the new bridge and had few questions for the planners. Mindful of alternate routes to and from the valley, Commissioner Steve Child did suggest that the 2015 demolition occur when Independence Pass is open.
Elsen welcomed the idea and said “that would really point (construction) more to the fall season.”
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