Rifle I-70 on-ramp to close for up to five days
RIFLE, Colo. Motorists who leave Rifle to head to Glenwood Springs and points farther east on Interstate 70 will have to find a different way to get onto the highway starting Saturday, July 26, and for up to five days after that.The Rifle City Council, somewhat reluctantly, on Wednesday approved a closure plan for the eastbound on-ramp proposed by Martinez Western Constructors, the contractor building roundabouts at the I-70 and Airport Road intersections.The ramp closure could last until Tuesday, July 30, said project engineer Nick Senn with Schmueser Gordon Meyer, followed by a similar closure of westbound traffic onto South Seventh Street, west of Airport Road and the roundabout construction, which could last from Aug. 9-13.The closures are needed to allow workers to pour concrete for new ramps and intersections, rather than switch traffic several times from the east and west lanes over the next few months, and help ensure safer working conditions, said Tim Laudick, project manager with Martinez Western.Closing the on-ramp for four or five days allows us to complete one full side of that roundabout, with all the traffic staying on the other side, he said. We think it could save us six to eight days on the overall project.If the on-ramp were not closed, Martinez Western would have to pour small portions of concrete, allow it to cure in order to support traffic, then move vehicles onto that section and pour another small portion, Laudick said. That process would have to be done many times in order to completely pour enough for the on-ramp, he said.During the on-ramp closure, motorists could use U.S. Highway 6&24 into Silt, where utility work is under way by other Martinez Western crews on that roundabout project, to access I-70. Other alternate routes are to drive west from Rifle on U.S. 6&24 to the West Rifle interchange, or drive through the roundabout construction and take Airport Road all the way to the Garfield County Airport, or Mamm Creek, interchange.Colorado Department of Transportation Resident Engineer Pete Mertes said the closure plans need approval by department traffic safety engineers, along with the U.S Federal Highway and Safety Administration. He said he believed that could be obtained within days, after which Martinez Western promised the City Council an aggressive public relations campaign to inform area residents of the closures.Electronic variable message signs will also be set up on the Colorado Highway 13 bypass in Rifle, on U.S. 6&24 and both directions on I-70 all the way from West Rifle to Canyon Creek, just west of Glenwood Springs, to inform drivers of the closures, Senn said.While several council members said people they had asked about the closure plans were unsure whether the city should approve them, Councilwoman Jennifer Sanborn noted 50 percent of the people she talked to in an unscientific survey said, Just do whatever it takes to get it done, and that surprised me.
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