The Grand Avenue Bridge project in Glenwood Springs is on time, after chugging along for more than five months. A key goal now for the Colorado Department of Transportation is making sure river users know about upcoming closures.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Victoria Powell strapped down a raft on a trailer, after floating the Colorado River. She and a crew of others finished at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs, and Powell did not know about restrictions planned for the week of July 18.
“I’m wondering if it’s a Saturday or Sunday,” she said after hearing about the upcoming restrictions. “And if I was planning on being on the river those days.”
Powell is in luck. The closures are not scheduled for weekends, just Monday through Friday, between 4 a.m. and noon. That rules out when she’s usually in a raft.
Another boater at Two Rivers Park was drying out his vessel and also hadn’t heard about the impending closures. Tampa resident Wayne Curtiss will be in Glenwood Springs for about a month. During his last river trip, he started on the Roaring Fork River, skipping the Grand Avenue Bridge. But Curtiss plans on boating the Colorado more during his visit.
After learning more about upcoming restrictions, he shrugged his shoulders. “4 a.m., 5 a.m. .... 8 a.m., I’m on vacation so I’m usually doing something with my eyes closed.”
CDOT hopes to reach recreators like Powell and Curtiss before the closure by putting up flyers at popular put-ins. One of the most affected runs will be from Grizzly Creek to Two Rivers Park. And the agency is working with rafting companies to make sure they avoid the restricted times.
The whole point is to make sure boaters aren’t underneath construction work scheduled for the week of July 18, “so we can place the girders for the pedestrian bridge,” said project spokesman Tom Newland. “Onto the piers that you see coming out of the ground. ”
Girders are large metal objects that create a foundation for the deck that pedestrians will use on the new foot bridge. They’ll be put in place with cranes, and it would be a catastrophe if any of those materials or equipment came crashing down into the river when there was a rafter passing by.
There will be another educational effort for boaters, to prevent such a situation from happening during the closures. Starting July 11, CDOT is holding a daily conference call with the latest river and construction information.