Bridge to Aspen project enters final month on time, on budget | AspenTimes.com

Bridge to Aspen project enters final month on time, on budget

As construction crews enter their final month of work on the Castle Creek Bridge, city engineers said they expect the $4.65 million project to finish on time and on budget.

"It's the final countdown to the finish line," City Engineer Trish Aragon said late last week. "Soon, there will be a nice trail and a nice road free of potholes."

Aspen City Council approved the project in January, which is aimed at improving the Hallam Street corridor, as well as widening the sidewalk on the bridge to better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

Weather has cooperated, which has allowed crews to stay on schedule for an Oct. 31 completion date. And that's with an extended summer break; construction was supposed to resume in mid-August but the city waited until after Labor Day.

"It's going to be a sprint," said project manager Pete Rice, who works in the city of Aspen's engineering department.

He said Friday that this week's weather forecast looks a bit problematic but it shouldn't slow things down too much.

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"Next week is going to be the first week that's going to be a challenge," he said.

Temperatures need to be about 40 degrees for materials to be laid and 50 degrees for striping. As fall approaches, crews have had to start a little later in the morning, Rice noted.

Ben West, project manager for Gould Construction, the contractor on the project, said weather has not been a factor yet.

"The cooler weather certainly slows down our operations, though until now it's been a beautiful fall and we've accomplished a lot in the last month," he said Friday via email. "It'll be a busy month and hopefully Mother Nature cooperates."

A tour Friday morning showed freshly poured concrete at the corner of Seventh and Main streets, in front of the Hickory House restaurant. That section needs a week to cure and then it will reopen to traffic, Rice said.

"On Oct. 9 we'll open it to inbound traffic," he said, adding that work to the roadway at Seventh and Hallam streets will be one of the final pieces in the project. That intersection currently serves as the inbound and outbound traffic detour.

The city did its own design work on the intersection in front of the Hickory House. It is similar in size to the one that was done at Seventh and Hallam streets. Both are considered the S-curves at the entrance to town.

Concrete is superior to asphalt because it can last 20 years before maintenance is required, according to city officials. Asphalt, which is prone to potholes forming, is typically maintained every three to four years.

Because of that work, the detour for inbound traffic has been Hallam to Sixth Street to Main Street; outbound traffic is using Fifth Street to Hallam and out on Highway 82, or Power Plant Road to Cemetery Lane.

Since the project resumed Sept. 4, Rice has been relying on his traffic flaggers to stay flexible on how to handle the flow of vehicles on any given day.

In the afternoon, he sometimes deploys the "double flush" when outbound traffic goes over the bridge and down Power Plant.

He and Aragon said traffic and people's patience have been fairly manageable. There were some kinks that needed to be worked out in dealing with school traffic coming down from Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout, Rice said.

"I think traffic has gone reasonably well," he said. "We've done a good job clearing traffic out of town."

Most of September has been focused on bridge work — widening the sidewalk on the north side and installing a guardrail to separate pedestrians and cyclists from traffic, Aragon said.

She said the bridge and underground utilities have been the bulk of this month's work.

This month, the final pieces are a railing on the south side of the bridge and finishing touches on the new bus shelters at Seventh and Eighth streets.

Aragon said the hard stuff, including dealing with the bridge deck and underground utilities, is finished.

"We're past a lot of the risks with this project," she said.

For updated information, go to castlecreekbridge.com.

csackariason@aspentimes.com