The Fall River Road project evolved from a pedestrian to vehicular bridge, accommodating everyone from emergency responders to whitewater rafters
The Fall River Road project started simply enough: increase the safety of bicyclists with a pedestrian bridge on I-70 and spanning Clear Creek. What it turned into is the perfect example of what happens when unique experience and problem-solving lead to a better solution.
Early in the design process, team members recognized an opportunity to better connect various communities, improving safety, accessibility and sustainability for several invested groups.
The benefit of experience
“One of the things that was definitely beneficial is that (team members) Clark Roberts, Andi Schmid and Bob Smith all used to work for CDOT,” said Angy Casamento, senior project manager at Ulteig. “They had done a lot of work within that corridor and understood what the client wanted. A lot of experience was already at the table. They understood the community.”
During conversations with CDOT, the plans for a pedestrian bridge evolved into a two-lane vehicular bridge over Clear Creek that provided an alternate route for emergency vehicles on I-70 during times of heavy congestion, such as peak travel season. A vehicular bridge was also a benefit to area businesses and tourist destinations, and improved recreational amenities for motorists, pedestrians, cyclists—and even the rafting community, whose needs the Ulteig team identified as part of their community engagement efforts.
The importance of listening
“Initially, we had meetings with different stakeholders. In talking through that, the rafting community became a big factor in the design,” said Casamento.
Clear Creek is a popular waterway for rafters. Ulteig realized that the designed clearance was too low to accommodate this. So they raised the bridge six feet.
This is just one example of additional elements the team implemented while listening to CDOT and the community.
- The highly congested corridor suffers limitations because of its close proximity to Clear Creek, so there was only so much room to work with.
- The project design accommodates future greenway trail projects from the Clear Creek County master plan, avoiding the need for future modification.
- CDOT’s Context Sensitive Solutions were a key part of the design, so Ulteig had to ensure the bridge met the county’s guidelines, including aesthetic requirements.
- The design had to minimize the bridge footprint while still accommodating the turning movements of emergency vehicles and bus/trailer combinations.
- To accommodate interstate closures, a road closure gate was added to the bridge.
The project also supports the Whole System—Whole Safety initiative by improving safety conditions for all modes of transportation using I-70.
The meaning of success … from start to finish
A successful project isn’t just about the final product—considerations must be taken during construction as well. The team collaborated with CDOT and listened to unique community needs throughout the entire process.
“Construction phasing was my biggest issue,” said Clark Roberts, senior engineer. “I made a recommendation to the resident engineer that we get one phase done at night, allowing for daytime travel. That solved the county’s main concerns. We definitely did a good job of keeping that frontage road open.”
Keeping the frontage road open during construction was critical for emergency responders, who said they were called to pull rafters out of the river once or twice a week. Tourist busses would sometimes also use the frontage road to spot rafters.
The team used an innovative approach to maintain traffic with a two-lane, one-road smart zone technology and automated traffic signal. It allowed traffic to be maintained in both directions during the day.
The Fall River Road Bridge project is an example of what sets Ulteig apart—listening to clients, engaging stakeholders of all kinds and a commitment to completing projects on time and within budget.
- Project management
- Roadway design
- Community and stakeholder coordination
- Hydraulics and hydrology design
- Construction phasing
- Street lighting design
- Management of and coordination between subconsultants providing bridge design; environmental consulting; traffic study; signing and striping; visualization graphics; geotechnical investigation and design; and potholing