State awards contract to close gap between bridges

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenMarch 4, 2011

Steel netting will be installed between the old and new Maroon Creek Bridges in the coming weeks, after the Colorado Department of Transportation awarded a $20,000 contract to an Arvada company.

Work to close the narrow gap between the two structures is expected to begin later this month or in early April, state officials announced Friday. Yenter Companies of Arvada will install 660 linear feet of steel safety netting with six-inch by six-inch spacing between the rail beams on both of the bridges. The space between the two bridges is not uniform but officials say it is roughly 18 inches and at its widest point, the netting will span nearly two feet.

The gap between the Maroon Creek Bridges.

The bridge construction comes after the recent death of Snowmass lift operator George Aldrich, 28, who was found beneath the bridges Dec. 13 — a little over two weeks after he exited a local bus at the wrong stop Nov. 27 and, on foot, tried to find his way home in the cold, snow and darkness. The coroner determined Aldrich fell about 100 feet, likely slipping through the gap between the bridges.

CDOT officials say they chose steel netting similar to that used for rockfall mitigation.

“The horizontal netting between the two structures was selected over a vertical feature (such as a fence) due to considerations of snow loading, adverse aesthetics and the desire to safeguard the actual space between the bridges,” the agency reported in a press release.

The original Maroon Creek Bridge was constructed in 1888 as a railroad trestle. It carried motor vehicle traffic for decades until CDOT built a new span over Maroon Creek in 2008. State officials have stressed the new bridge meets all federal and state safety standards for pedestrian and vehicular travel. The old one is designated as historic.

Meanwhile, the nearby Castle Creek Bridge on Highway 82 also will see a facelift. CDOT and contractor ABCO are removing the bridge's asphalt surface and an inch of the underlying concrete deck; patching and resurfacing the concrete deck; installing a waterproofing membrane; overlaying the deck with three inches of asphalt; replacing the expansion joint; and making minor repairs to abutments (where bridge meets land) and piers.

The cost of the Castle Creek Bridge project is $664,000. It is set to begin April 11.

Officials are warning upvalley commuters that traffic will be delayed on weekdays after 9 a.m. Downvalley traffic will be detoured along Power Plant Road up to Cemetery Lane and back to Highway 82. Delays during the weekends could come at any time. An open house is planned from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. March 23 at the Rio Grande Meeting Room where the public can learn more details about the Castle Creek Bridge project and its anticipated schedule.

Correction: The original publication of this story contained a typo. The open house to discuss the Castle Creek Bridge project is Wednesday March 23, not March 13.

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