Downvalley traffic over the Castle Creek Bridge will be detoured this morning to allow for a temporary fix to a recurring problem with the pavement. Crews are scheduled to add a hot-mix asphalt patch to a portion of the pavement that is peeling due to water seepage throughout the winter.
Extensive upgrades to the bridge and surrounding area caused traffic delays throughout last spring and fall, and one more fix is expected this autumn. The city spent nearly $70,000 on asphalt and waterproofing on the bridge last summer. The patch today is considered a part of the original scope and will not cost the city any additional money. The same contractor, Gould Construction, will be conducting the temporary fix today, and will provide a two-year warranty on the bridge upgrade once the project is complete.
Pete Rice, senior project manager for the city of Aspen’s Engineering Department, said that the road’s waterproofing was likely damaged during the winter, and the structure of the bridge creates places where water can pool up.
“We probably need an extra drain, this is an old bridge, it’s dead flat, and so the asphalt has to be beyond perfect,” Rice said.
He said Gould performed their work within the required parameters.
“When something has to be this tight, it’s hard to blame a contractor for not doing it well because it’s within a tolerance, but that bridge is old and it’s tough to get water drained off of 400 feet of flat bridge,” Rice said.
The pothole has been addressed three times already within the first year of the repaving. Rice said more extensive work is needed to keep moisture from collecting on the bridge. The city would like to add additional drainage around the joint area where today’s repairs are occurring. In consulting with bridge experts, they realized the fix could be more complicated than originally thought.
“They said we don’t think it’s a good idea to drill into that old bridge,” said Rice, “so we decided we only want to go back once and we didn’t want to shut it down unless we were positive.”
The city will use sonar technology to get a better picture of the sub-grade rebar and decking, and should complete plans for the permanent repairs within the next couple of weeks. However, Rice said the fix will not be implemented until after the summer, to avoid closing down the commuter stretch at the height of seasonal traffic.
“I think we learned last summer that the businesses don’t want us to do anything over the summer,” Rice said.
The fall off-season closure will likely be a week long because the Colorado Department of Transportation will also take the opportunity to address the bridge joint. CDOT oversees all state highways including Highway 82 across the Castle Creek Bridge into town.
“This joint has always been something that has been a CDOT headache,” Rice said. “That’s a $200,000 fix and it has to happen.”
The city engineering department learned last year that the off-season has its own set of complications as the weather begins to change. Rice said he hopes the week-long repairs can hold off until late September after the height of fall colors, but CDOT has strict temperature restrictions for pouring the asphalt and waterproofing. Last fall crews often had to wait until mid-morning to begin work due to cool temperatures.
“So it’s little things like that that I don’t think people realize happen,” Rice said.
The detour this morning routes outgoing traffic down Sixth Street to Power Plant Road, except for trucks and buses. Upvalley traffic will experience intermittent back ups to allow for downvalley buses. The work is expected to be completed by 11 a.m.