Throughout 2019, construction crews have sometimes had to work around the clock on the 27th Street Bridge project in Glenwood Springs.
One of two vehicular bridges crossing the Roaring Fork River within city limits, the 27th Street Bridge was constructed in 1968 and first opened to the public in 1969. Prior to this year’s construction, it was one of the worst-rated bridges in Colorado.
But not anymore. Recently, crews finished building the new 27th Street Bridge just south of the old structure and recently slid the new bridge into place.
The bridge slide technique was utilized in order to minimize traffic impacts by maintaining the vehicular connection across the Roaring Fork River for most of the project.
Some businesses in the immediate 27th Street Bridge area as well as Roaring Fork Schools and RFTA said that increased traffic, while noticeable, was not particularly impactful.
For Roaring Fork Anglers, which is within walking distance of the 27th Street Bridge, the ongoing construction project has taken a minimal toll on manager Tom Trowbridge’s livelihood.
“On Highway 82 out in front of us I noticed additional traffic but I don’t believe that it really affected my business,” Trowbridge said. “Guiding on the Roaring Fork River, our business impacts have been quite minimal.”
Trowbridge said he was well notified of all of the river and bridge closures associated with the 27th Street Bridge project and was able to plan accordingly.
“Having that bridge replaced for us here at Roaring Fork Anglers hasn’t been a big deal,” he said.
Roaring Fork Schools Public Information Officer Kelsy Been said school buses were rerouted during the bridge move closure period but that overall impacts were minimal.
Additionally, RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said that afternoon congestion on Highway 82 as a result of the closure may have affected RFTA riders slightly.
“There were several CDOT construction projects on Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale that also had an impact on traffic this past summer,” Blankenship said. “So, it is challenging to attribute any of the delays RFTA buses may have experienced to any single cause.”
$43,000 LANE RENTAL FEE
While businesses and public transportation officials did not report any significant impacts as a result of the still ongoing 27th Street Bridge project, the 84-hour bridge move closure period took four days longer than planned.
Whether or not the city of Glenwood Springs will deduct a lane rental fee from contractor Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction remains in question.
“The city has not made any decisions yet and is focused on bringing the project to a successful conclusion,” Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon said.
According to the 27th Street Bridge project’s construction contract documents obtained by the Post Independent through an open records request, “The contractor shall be assessed a lane rental fee of $43,000 for each day or portion thereof (prorated per hour) beyond the 84-hour bridge move closure period specified … that at least two lanes (one lane in each direction) of traffic have not been safely reestablished on the 27th Street Bridge.”
The 27th Street Bridge move closure period began at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 as anticipated, but did not end at 6 a.m. Sept. 16 as planned.
“As with any complicated construction project things often don’t go as expected,” Hanlon said. “The city is carefully evaluating the project and contract regarding the delays which have occurred.”
The 27th Street Bridge reopened to traffic shortly after 3:30 p.m. Sept. 20 meaning the bridge move closure period lasted approximately 105 hours over the allotted 84-hour timeframe given to Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction.
Ralph L. Wadsworth’s construction contract for the 27th Street Bridge project carried with it a price tag of $9.83 million. The city received three grants amounting to $2.59 million for the construction portion of the project to assist with that cost.
According to the construction contract the lane rental fee deduction, “is not a penalty, but is a rental fee based upon road user costs to occupy 27th Street at the area where the bridge replacement work is being performed.”
The city has estimated that over 14,000 vehicles use the 27th Street Bridge daily as it provides one of two critical vehicular connections across the Roaring Fork River in Glenwood Springs.
The city may determine not to assess the lane rental fee for closures “due to extenuating circumstance beyond the contractors control,” according to the contract.
As previously reported, according to Bryce Jaynes, Colorado Division Manager for Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction, “unknown site conditions” were encountered during the removal of concrete slabs from the old 27th Street bridge deck that required additional precaution during deconstruction.
Additionally, 27th Street Bridge Project Public Information Manager Bryana Starbuck said that those unknown site conditions required additional precaution “to keep workers and equipment safe and maintain the structural integrity of the bridge.”
According to Starbuck, crews recently installed a storm sewer line on the west side of the 27th Street Bridge and were finishing utility work and construction of the north leg of the new roundabout.
“We are grateful to the community for their patience during construction,” Starbuck said.
Additionally, Starbuck said no additional full closures were scheduled at this time.