Grand Lake looks to rehab and repair West Portal Bridge |

Grand Lake looks to rehab and repair West Portal Bridge

Traveling in the mountains is a challenge.

Roads can become icy and slick, even in summer, downed trees can block highways and heavy rains have the potential to wipe out whole sections of road. Even when conditions are optimal and traffic is light drivers in the high country can become frustrated by the meandering routes imposed by mountain topography.

Many of the county’s best trails and recreation hot spots are accessible by one road only, giving added weight to the importance of maintenance work. To keep things flowing as smoothly as possible on the north end of the county Grand Lake Town officials are looking into a six-figure bridge rehabilitation project for Grand Lake’s West Portal Bridge.

For the past several weeks the Town of Grand Lake has been working to finalize aspects of an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the Town and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for a rehab project on the West Portal Bridge. The West Portal Bridge is located in Grand Lake on West Portal Road and crosses the north inlet to Grand Lake. The road runs along the northern edge of the Town of Grand Lake proper, adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park and provides access to the East Inlet and Adams Falls trailheads and the East Inlet Boat Launch, the only non-fee boat launch in the three lakes area.

According to Grand Lake Town Planner Joe Biller the West Portal Bridge rehabilitation project will entail replacing the driving surface over the bridge, fixing pedestrian access points and other general repair and maintenance work such as repainting. Previously the decking of the West Portal Bridge has been rated as deficient, prompting the rehabilitation project. Biller pointed out it is only the decking, or road surface, of the bridge that has been deemed deficient and not the structure itself.

Plans for the project have been in the works for half a decade now with the Town of Grand Lake receiving a grant from CDOT totaling $694,000 back in 2010. The project was shelved for various reasons but a recent CDOT review has helped move things forward. “CDOT reviewed the project and told us we risk losing the money if we don’t get on it,” said Grand Lake Town Manager Jim White. “We are actively trying to get that done. It is in our budget for 2016.

Grand Lake received the draft IGA in early Nov. and has been in ongoing discussions with CDOT since. The IGA still needs final approval from the Grand Lake Town Board. Biller said the Town plans to bring the issue before the Board of Trustees for approval along with the 2016 Town Budget at the Dec. 14 Board of Trustees meeting.

When Grand Lake initially received the grant monies for the project from CDOT in 2010 a preliminary cost estimate was conducted, estimating the cost of the project at $867,000. That figure was estimated in 2010 when building material and construction costs were lower. Town Manager Jim White explained that after the IGA is formalized the Town would have engineers develop a new cost estimate for the project. No timeline for construction exists yet but White said the tentative plan is to begin construction on the project next fall, after Grand Lake’s annual Constitution Week, held in Sept.

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