Glenwood Springs I-70 interchange to get a facelift |

Glenwood Springs I-70 interchange to get a facelift

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentColorado Department of Transportation workers repair the guardrail near the South Canyon exit on Interstate 70 recently. CDOT is scheduled to begin work after Labor Day on the Interstate 70 Highway 82 Interchange project, which includes resurfacing of the Grand Avenue Bridge.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Colorado Department of Transportation inspected the Grand Avenue Bridge last week in Glenwood Springs to determine just how much maintenance work would have to be done this fall.

Work is scheduled to begin after Labor Day and will be included in the Interstate 70 Highway 82 Interchange project.

The $3 million project, of which nearly $2.5 million is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is designed to ease heavy traffic flows during the morning and evening commutes through Sixth Street and over the Grand Avenue Bridge section of Highway 82 through Glenwood Springs.

Work will include increasing the eastbound I-70 off-ramp to two lanes to relieve morning traffic congestion by adding an additional left turn lane onto Highway 82.

The westbound I-70 on-ramp will also be widened to two lanes, mobilizing traffic and improving safety during the evening commute periods.

According to CDOT Program Engineer Joe Elsen, the current backups during the morning commute are a big problem.

“It’s a safety issue for us,” Elsen said. “It’s what we call the ‘clear zone,’ and the morning traffic backs up onto I-70.”

There will also be curb ramps installed along the Highway 82 portion of Sixth Street to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and that section will also be resurfaced.

Traffic signals will be improved to accommodate the increase in traffic. Conduits and fiber optic cables will be installed so that the signal at this junction will communicate and be in sync with upvalley signals through Glenwood Springs to ensure a smoother traffic flow.

Resurfacing of the Grand Avenue Bridge will also be done at that time.

Elsen said the bridge is still structurally sound and the work is routine maintenance.

“The bridge’s sufficiency rating is about 47 out of 100,” Elsen said. “But most of what drives the classification is being functionally obsolete.”

Bridges fall into two classifications, according to Elsen, either functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. The Grand Avenue Bridge is considered functionally obsolete, which means that due to its original design the bridge is no longer adequate for its current task.

A bridge could be considered functionally obsolete for a number of reasons including not having enough lanes to accommodate traffic flow, as is the case with this bridge.

A typical traffic lane is 12 feet wide, according to Elsen. But the Grand Avenue Bridge was designed and built in the 1950s as a two-lane bridge. It was widened in 1960, but today the lanes still measure only 9 feet wide. And residents know just how tight the bridge is.

Elsen said he expects to have work finished by Memorial Day next year. And CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said that while it’s a big project and there will be some traffic problems, CDOT will do what it can to minimize impacts.

“It’s important for people to know that traffic will not be stopped during the rush hours,” Shanks said. “Crews will work with community to not impact traffic, as much as possible.”

Elsen said that crews will not work during rush hours and will work weekends and a lot of nights.

CDOT has two other projects scheduled for Garfield County for 2009.

– CDOT will install wildlife fencing along sections of Highway 82 primarily on the southwest side of the road near Aspen Glen. They will also install three wildlife escape ramps along this stretch and wildlife guards designed to keep wildlife away from the highway.

– CDOT will resurface various sections of Highway 82 throughout the summer season. There is $3.7 million budgeted for those various projects.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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