Thousands gathered on the freshly striped deck of the new Grand Avenue Bridge on Monday evening for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
For good reason, the crowd was radiant. They had just endured something historic, according to Glenwood Springs Mayor Mike Gamba, who said the detour was the “largest sustained detour in the history of the United States.”
It’s now over; traffic will no longer be rerouted onto Midland Avenue. Tom Newland, of the Colorado Department of Transportation said weather is one reason for the speedy finish. Also, people stopped driving as frequently, which enabled the contractor to get materials and workers to and from the bridge as efficiently as possible.
“That reduction in traffic really made things run smoothly,” Newland said.
Another reason for the early opening, according to Aaron Cordova, a superintendent of the project, is because of good, focused management.
“The team on this project just planned their work and worked their plan, and they did a fantastic job,” he said.
For many, maybe most, the reopening couldn’t come sooner. A young man who introduced himself as Beltbuckle Bobby has been commuting upvalley from West Glenwood. He’s a landscaper and has needed to drive his truck everyday to haul a trailer full of tools. His commute was between 20 and 40 minutes in the morning, then an hour and a half to two hours in the afternoon.
After the speeches and the photos, the crowd walked across the bridge. Police herded everyone to the sidewalks and then removed the big orange cones and the first cars drove across.