After 85 long days of detours, traffic jams and setbacks, the brand new Grand Avenue Bridge will open ten days ahead of schedule in Glenwood Springs. Tuesday’s opening marks the beginning of the end for the largest construction project on the Western slope in 25 years.
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy. Building the bridge’s replacement and demolishing the old bridge gummed up one of Glenwood Springs’ main thoroughfares, with reverberations felt on up the Roaring Fork Valley.
But the 85-day timetable -- while it may have felt like an eternity to some residents -- was actually an accelerated one, because the bridge appeared on Colorado’s “bad bridge” list. That qualified the project for aptly named FASTER funding -- Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery.
This week’s opening does not mean that residents can say goodbye to construction. This marks the third of a five-phase project phase project, according to Tracy Trulove, a spokeswoman for CDOT. The remaining phases deal with aesthetics on the bridge itself, but also minor nearby construction, such as fixing up the Glenwood Springs Hot Pool parking lot.
The big news for residents: much of the “detour formation” that’s been in effect around the bridge will return to normal traffic configuration. Trulove says that while the last 85 days have certainly been a traffic headache, CDOT has seen a rise in public transit ridership over that time. She adds that more children in the area have been riding their bikes to school in lieu of getting rides from their parents.