Solving Aspen’s problematic span |

Solving Aspen’s problematic span

Naomi Havlen

Commuters, take heart – replacement of the Maroon Creek bridge is on state transportation officials’ front burner and the project could be put out for bids as soon as February.The ailing bridge, built in the 19th century as a railroad trestle, has had a number of structural emergencies and is rated low on a state safety scale.Ed Fink, regional transportation director with the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Friday that he is actively searching for funds for a new bridge. His statement came after Wednesday’s announcement that the bridge has another crack at its base that requires repair.”We already recognize it as a top priority for funding,” Fink said. “We’re working on a number of things to get it under contract in the next few months.”Finding money for the potentially $11 million project is the final obstacle for transportation officials, and Fink pointed to one possible solution.House Bill 1013 would protect transportation funding from being reduced substantially, making transportation projects in Colorado a higher priority.”We’ve been talking about the potential for additional funding from House Bill 1310. It’s growth-driven revenue,” he said. “We anticipate funding coming in, but we have to go through audits to verify that the money is there. If everything works out, and the funds come in, we think we can advertise the bridge in February – but there are a few ifs there.”Advertising the project essentially means displaying the project in business journals to put it up for contractor bids, said Joe Elsen, CDOT program engineer in Glenwood Springs.A design for a new bridge was approved late last month by local officials. The 610-foot span would be supported by two A-frame piers in the gorge and would be built in segments coming outward from the bridge deck until it meets in the middle. The design is appropriate to having a minimal impact on the riparian environment in the Maroon Creek gorge.Even though funds for the project aren’t yet available, CDOT and local officials hope that having bridge designs and environmental clearances ready will help the project move along quickly if the money suddenly becomes available.”We’ll continue to make repairs to the bridge when these things come up,” Fink said. “But as far as priority for funding, it’s first in the door.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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