Responding to concerns expressed at a previous City Council Workshop (August 1) about a proposed Midland Avenue construction detour, the Grand Avenue Bridge project team has been meeting regularly with City staff to work through the potential to use 8th Street as the primary detour route. The results of these discussions and more information on the 8th Street connection project will be presented to City Council on Thursday at a City Council Workshop.
Public input since the inception of the Environmental Assessment study points to closing the bridge for a short time to completely reconstruct it, rather than keeping the bridge open throughout construction with a much longer duration of impacts to traffic. This approach would require a full closure of the Grand Avenue Bridge for up to two months during the low-tourist season, rather than a year or more of one-lane traffic in each direction on the bridge.
Because of the lack of alternate routes through Glenwood Springs, there are few options for rerouting this traffic away from downtown. Early in the project, the project team examined at least three detour options for the planned closure. All of the options would use the stretch of Midland Avenue between 8th Street and Exit 114. Where they differ is how the traffic is detoured through or away from downtown south of the bridge.
An option on 7th Street had been screened out primarily because the height of the UPRR railroad bridge over 7th Street was too low to accommodate the trucks that travel SH 82 every day. The 8th Street connection had been screened out because of the likely historic impacts to the existing railroad and the cost of constructing a new road as part of the CDOT project.
Based on the information available to the project team, the best option for the detour route was presented at the January 9 public meeting as Exit 114, Midland Avenue, and 27th Street. The plan included several improvements to Midland Avenue and its intersections to prepare it for the additional short-term traffic load.
Since the contractor consultant came on board to assist with construction planning during these preliminary project phases, the project team has revisited some of the initial detour plans. Also, at the City Council Workshop on August 1, concerns were raised about the portion of the detour route on Midland Avenue south of 8th Street. The Council’s concerns were traffic congestion, safety, and large trucks traveling head to head along a narrow Midland Avenue. The Council indicated that using 8th Street as the detour option would be preferable. City staff has also been moving forward to initiate the implementation of the planned the 8th Street project so that it would be built and used as the detour for the Grand Avenue Bridge project.
Based on the City’s participation in building the 8th Street route, the Grand Avenue Bridge project team reevaluated that option against the Midland to 27th Street option and a third option that would use 7th Street. The 8th Street connection is included in the City’s Comprehensive Plan as it shows to provide improved mobility within Glenwood Springs.
“The three detour options have advantages and disadvantages, and the City and CDOT have agreed that 8th Street would provide the best detour route,” CDOT Region 3 Central Program Engineer Joe Elsen said. “We are working cooperatively to ensure this detour plan provides the safest route for all travelers—motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and transit users—during the project’s accelerated bridge construction phase.”
At this time, the Grand Avenue Bridge project team is proceeding with including the 8th Street connection in the Grand Avenue Bridge Environmental Assessment as a construction detour. According to NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act), the impacts must be evaluated and mitigation measures defined for those impacts. The 8th Street project as envisioned in the City’s Comprehensive Plan will be further defined by the City.
Both CDOT and the City would like to see both the detour and the longer term 8th Street connection built at the same time if agreements with the railroad and other partners can be developed, and other details can be worked out. But even if the full 8th Street connection cannot be constructed in time, the detour will help minimize traffic impacts during construction and it would be built to support the infrastructure needs of the 8th Street connection.
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