We are about eight months into the 30-month Grand Avenue Bridge construction and it is beginning to feel like all of Glenwood is under construction.
The Pedestrian Bridge is well underway and the pouring of the concrete decking began this week.
The Seventh Street Station, which houses the elevators for the bridge is beginning to come out of the ground. Utilities have been moved along 6th Street. Construction on the pedestrian underpass on the north side of the new Grand Avenue Bridge has started. Piers for the vehicular bridge have come out of the ground. All of this is centered in the downtown area.
Construction on the 8th Street Connection detour is underway. This will involve moving 1,000 cubic yard of earth per day to make that cut. It will is causing the loss of parking to the west of City Hall. Improvements are also being done on the intersection of Midland and 8th. Then, from Oct 8 to 18, the 7th Street Bridge (soon to be known as the 8th Street Bridge) will see a full closure while CDOT makes necessary repairs to accommodate extra traffic during the approximately 95-day Grand Avenue Bridge closure period.
Not only will this closure impact vehicular traffic, but it will have a major impact on RFTA routes. Currently all inbound and outbound RFTA busses use 7th Street to Midland, rather than go over the Grand Avenue Bridge. The route changes are not finalized. This closure also has a major impact on school bus routes and Roaring Fork School District is working on alternative routing during this time.
In the West Glenwood area, work on Exit 114 is well underway, with entrance and exit ramps being lengthened and capacity increased to handle additional traffic during the Grand Avenue Bridge closure.
But wait . . . there’s more!
Additionally, construction is ongoing for a pedestrian/bicycle path extending from the main entrance to Glenwood Meadows west. This path will cross Midland, via a grade-separated crossing (bridge) and wind its way down under the railroad bridge to connect with the sidewalk going over the Colorado River at the “wave” area. The path was part of the plan to accommodate walkers and bikers during the closure period and is being partially funded through a Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant.
Roaring Fork School District has begun reconstruction and major reconfiguration of the Glenwood Springs Elementary School campus. This is within a few blocks of the 8th Street Connection construction.
Construction of an assisted living facility is taking place between the 27th Street Bridge (Sunlight Bridge) and the roundabout at 27th and Midland.
So if it seems like all of Glenwood is under construction, it’s because it is.
So what are the impacts of all of this construction? So far sales tax numbers are continuing to increase. Year-to-date through July is 5.11% over July 2015 – a good thing. However, I have heard from a couple of businesses that their numbers are down slightly – although the downtown area is up 6.14% over 2015. For the Glenwood Post Independent article, click here
The accommodation tax is also up by almost 7% over 2015 which would indicate an increase in visitors to Glenwood Springs. That would also seem to be verified by the fact that traffic counts were up this year summer. Read the Glenwood Post Independent article here
During rush hour, in particular, we are seeing longer commute times and some traffic backups. This can lead to frustrated drivers. In a recent letter to the editor, Tricia Farrell observed that backed up commuter traffic often blocks the intersections along Grand Avenue. I have also witnessed this. This simply backs up traffic everywhere.
While I have seen some frustrated drivers, I have also seen an incredible amount of courtesy.
True confessions – I am a jaywalker. However, never have I had so many vehicles stop, in the middle of the block, when they see I am trying to get across. I also witnessed most vehicles in the 27th Street roundabout taking turns to let vehicle coming into town from South Midland into the roundabout.
Yes, Glenwood is under construction. But we can all help by getting out of our cars and walking, biking or taking the bus whenever possible. Several large employers are putting together carpool or vanpool arrangements to get employees to work when the bridge closure occurs. But this might be a good time to start practicing for the closure and get comfortable with some alternative means of transportation.
Let me know how you are dealing with this construction. What changes are you making to get around town? What plans do you have when the 8th Street Bridge closes? What plans do you have when the Grand Avenue Bridge closes? We are all in this together. The results will be “Grand” but getting there is a bit painful.