Glenwood Springs’ Grand Avenue bridge on track for early opening
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The new Grand Avenue bridge is expected to open to traffic somewhat earlier than originally planned, at a time to be determined toward the beginning of November, according to project officials.
The possible early opening would be well ahead of the targeted Nov. 17 date that marks the end of the scheduled 95-day bridge closure period while the final section of the new bridge is being built.
It’s all still largely weather dependent, cautioned Tom Newland, project public information officer for the Colorado Department of Transportation. But a combination of favorable weather thus far through October, and the contractor’s rapid progress on the critical path work utilizing a near-constant 24/7 construction schedule, has the bridge on track for an initial opening the first part of November, he said.
Another critical concrete pour between Eighth Street and the south bridge abutment is scheduled to take place in the coming week. Expansion joints where the south end of the span begins also need to be completed.
So, a lot hinges on that work falling into place, Newland said.
Perhaps better yet for the sake of Colorado Highway 82 commuters and cross-town travelers who have been stuck in detour hell since Aug. 14, the latest plan calls for the critical highway link over the Colorado River to Interstate 70 to be open to three “reversible” traffic lanes initially, rather than just two lanes, officials also announced on Tuesday.
In that configuration, two lanes will be dedicated to southbound 82 and Grand Avenue traffic in the morning, alternating to two northbound traffic lanes during the busy afternoon and evening hours.
The center lane of the bridge will alternate depending on the time of day during that initial opening, while construction continues on the fourth lane, concrete barriers, light pole bases and bridge railings, Newland said.
Project officials expect to open the bridge to a full four lanes of traffic about two weeks after the initial opening. Again, that will be weather dependent, he said.
New traffic signals at the I-70 interchange will be functional at the time of the partial bridge opening, as will the new roundabout at Sixth and Laurel streets, Newland said.
The early opening would qualify the general contractor for the $126 million bridge replacement project, Granite/RLW Joint Venture, for a $25,000-per-day bonus for up to 10 days, or $250,000.
The bonus for bringing the bridge on line ahead of the Nov. 17 target date was built into the contract when the project commenced in January 2016. Had the project fallen behind schedule, the same amount of penalty could be assessed, unless it was out of the contractor’s hands.
Once a date is determined, the initial bridge opening will occur in the middle of the night when traffic is light, Newland said.
The bridge project is to be fully completed by June 30 of next year.