I-70 interchange work at Glenwood exit begins | AspenTimes.com

I-70 interchange work at Glenwood exit begins

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Kelley Cox/Post IndependentThe Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs will see work as part of a Colorado Department of Transportation project that includes the Interstate 70 exit 116 area.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Traffic impacts are expected to be “minimal” during the duration of the Interstate 70 interchange project for the main exit into Glenwood Springs.

The project, which began Monday, is scheduled to last until Nov. 24, with a majority of the work being performed during the night between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to project manager Matt Varholdt of from Scott Contracting.

Varholdt also said construction could be wrapped up by as early as Oct. 21, depending on how smoothly the project goes.

“That is the date we want to be completed by,” Varholdt said.

While the project is considered relatively small in scale, according to Colorado Department of Transportation Project Engineer Joe Elsen, the most challenging aspect when dealing with intersections like the main Glenwood Springs exit is the sheer volume of traffic that passes through each day.

“Traffic is definitely the biggest challenge with this kind of project,” Elsen said.

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According to CDOT, the intersection had an average annual daily use of 25,800 vehicles in 2008. That number may seem a little low, according to CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks, because it is an average for the entire year. Shanks said during the peak of the summer tourist season, the intersection more likely sees upward of 45,000 vehicles in a single day.

Crews began Monday, setting up construction barriers in preparation to begin preliminary construction work early next week. Varholdt said that crews will not be working on Labor Day weekend, and no lane closures will occur during the holiday weekend. Crews will begin the bulk of the project after the Labor Day weekend.

The project received $2.5 million in stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and an additional $162,000 from the Federal Congestion Relief Funds. The design of the project is to ease heavy traffic flows during morning and evening commutes. The work will include additional lanes on the I-70 entrance and exit ramps to the west side of Highway 82, repaving work through Sixth Street and over the Grand Avenue Bridge, a second turn lane and new traffic lights will be added at the Sixth and Pine Street intersection. Conduits and fiber optic cables will be installed to align signals at the multiple intersections to better allow for mobility during rush hours.

With most work occurring at night, motorists who can not avoid the intersection during rush hours should not expect major delays, Varholdt said.

And while some lane closures could happen during the day, Varholdt ensured work would not be occurring during rush hour times.

City Engineer Mike McDill said bus schedules during the project would not be affected either. With the nighttime work, buses can continue their regular schedule for the duration of the project.

McDill also expects an increase in traffic on Midland Avenue as motorists attempt to bypass the 116 Interchange, however with construction ongoing at the south end of Midland Avenue on the roundabout at the 27th Street intersection, that could make for more congestion on that street.

But, according to Assistant City Engineer Steve Vanderleest, the roundabout should be accommodating traffic the week of Sept. 7, after the Labor Day weekend. However, Midland Avenue will be closed to through traffic at 27th Street, starting Monday, Aug. 24 through Aug. 30, as crews will be tying in the 27th Street roundabout at Midland Avenue. South Midland Avenue traffic will be able to utilize the current bypass during this time.

In the first week of September, crews will finish tying in the other two legs of 27th Street into the roundabout, allowing traffic to flow.

As for concerns brought up by the Glenwood Springs City Council in July regarding pedestrian crossing improvements at the Sixth Street and Laurel Street intersection – council members requested the work include three concrete pedestrian crossings at the intersection – that was not included in plans.

According to Elsen, CDOT and Scott Contracting have come up with some alternatives to the request that will be presented to the council at its Sept. 3 meeting.

Throwing another wrinkle into the project is the 25th Annual Tri-Glenwood Triathlon, which is scheduled Sunday, Sept. 13. According to Tom Newland, project spokesman for Scott Contracting, accommodations will be made for the expected 300 cyclists who will follow a route that will utilize both the westbound I-70 116 on ramp, and the eastbound I-70 116 exit ramp.

“We have made contact with the organizer and are going to take care of everything,” Newland said.

jgardner@postindependent.com