Contractors and city of Aspen officials working to push the Castle Creek Bridge-Hallam Street corridor improvement project over the finish line kindly ask that you keep your snow dances on hold for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
Work on the $4.6 million project that involves a complete rebuild of the roadway, a wider sidewalk replacing a dangerous pedestrian crossing of the bridge and new bus shelters was initially forecast to be completed by Oct. 31. Cool, wet weather experienced over the last week to 10 days has put the project behind schedule and will require one to two additional days in early November where the outbound detour in Power Plant Road will be in effect.
To maintain even that delayed schedule, contractors need dry weather and temperatures over 50 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week — Oct. 16 and 17 — in order to waterproof and then pour asphalt over the bridge deck.
That work was supposed to take place this week but was delayed due to the first bout of snowfall to hit the town of Aspen as we head into another winter season. The public may have noticed the lack of work taking place along the corridor, along with the inclement weather.
Pete Rice, project manager with the city’s engineering department, said Thursday that crews have lost about eight days to cool, wet weather so far this fall. Most work needs temperatures above 50 degrees and dry conditions to proceed.
The project started in April and was ahead of schedule going through the spring. Construction went on high-season hiatus starting in mid-June. The break was supposed to come to an end in mid-August but contractors pushed the restart date until after Labor Day in order to prevent the project’s associated traffic backups from impacting the tail end of the summer high season.
That addition two weeks of downtime is now coming into play.
“If we had the asphalt down on the bridge this wouldn’t be a problem,” Rice said of the current weather. “If we had started this in August we would be out of there now.”
Rice said the weather delays are not affecting the project’s budget. Some things have been added to the overall scope, he said, including raising the height of the railing on the south side of the bridge to better match the north side.
In other bridge-related news, a reconstructed eastern S-curve will open to traffic on Monday. The city determined that while traffic was being diverted away from the S-curves, it would be a good time to replace the pothole-stricken asphalt passage near the Hickory House with concrete.
When that opens, inbound traffic will again use the S-curves, while outbound traffic will travel through the West End to Power Plant Road on Sixth Street instead of Fifth.
Also, to accommodate the waterproofing work, outbound traffic will use the Power Plant detour all night on Oct. 16 through the early morning hours of Oct. 17 and through that day’s work schedule. Two-way traffic otherwise flows across the bridge outside of construction hours.
Bus stops at Sixth and Seventh streets are also expected to reopen next week.
As the project nears its completion, the new and expanded sidewalk across the bridge should open around Oct. 31. The new Eighth Street bus stops will be the final piece of the puzzle completed in early November.