Bridge opening a return to (slightly altered) normal
The first full day after the new Grand Avenue Bridge opened to traffic early Monday evening saw a return to relative calm along Glenwood Springs’ main thoroughfare.
After the initial opening to two lanes of traffic headed north across the bridge, following a ribbon-cutting and heavily attended community walk across the bridge, Colorado Department of Transportation officials opened the bridge to a full four lanes in both directions overnight.
The new bridge greeted Tuesday morning commuters headed to work, school and other destinations. Nearly gone were all the cones, barriers, fences and signs marking the Colorado 82 detour from Interstate 70 exit 114 detour to Midland Avenue, Eighth, Colorado and Ninth streets.
“We do want to make people aware that we are still taking down the detour over the next day or two, and there might be some remnants,” said Tom Newland, CDOT’s public information manager for the ongoing construction project.
“Just follow the signs and the flaggers,” he said.
By Tuesday evening, 24 hours after the bridge opening, the usual heavy but steady flow of Grand Avenue traffic was making its way over the bridge, just like the pre-detour normal, but with a new twist.
Instead of the former Sixth Street section of 82 before connecting to I-70, the new span over the Colorado River provides a direct link to the interstate.
One area where project officials are working to improve traffic flow is at the new Sixth and Laurel roundabout, Newland said. During the day Tuesday, occasional traffic backups could be seen at the roundabout for people trying to get onto the bridge heading into the main part of town.
“We did have some signal issues there (on Monday),” he said. “All of the signals will be looked at, and most likely some of the timing will be revised to reflect the traffic flow.”
Motorists should also expect intermittent daytime lane closures on the bridge as workers continue with the final detail work along the sides and underneath, Newland said.
That work will mostly occur during the middle of the day, and lanes will be kept open for the dominant morning and evening flow of traffic, he said.
“There will be times when it backs up a little, just like it always did,” he said.
Lane closures and other construction information will continue to be posted on the Grand Avenue Bridge website and Facebook pages, and email and text alerts will continue to be distributed as necessary.
Various aspects of the more than two-year-long, $126 million bridge replacement project will continue through June.
Upcoming work will include removal of the scaffolding under the bridge at Seventh Street, continued work on the bridge railings and streetlights, and installation of the brick pavers on the pedestrian walkways in the 700 block of Grand.
Longer term, the River Street is expected to open sometime in the next month, the Hot Springs parking lot and stairway from the north end of the pedestrian bridge are to be completed by February, and the construction platforms, or causeways, in the river are to be removed by March 1.
Work also will soon begin to extend the eastbound I-70 on ramp at exit 116 by another 500 feet, making for a safer entry onto the interstate.
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A 40-year-old resident of El Jebel died from COVID-19 on Saturday. He is survived by his wife and two young children.