Arvada, CO……..The Grinch and other Dr. Seuss characters were the first “traffic” to cross over Wadsworth on the Grandview Avenue overpass as the $32 million project separating Wadsworth from the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks nears completion.
Live reindeer pulled a sleigh of “Seussical” characters (straight from the production of Seussical at the Arvada Center) to the tune of “Welcome Christmas” (from the animated classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas) sung by the Arvada Center Chorale. The 10:00 a.m. ceremony was emceed by 9News Meteorologist Marty Coniglio.
US Senator Ken Salazar spoke at the event, remarking that there is going to be a new “Marshall Plan” for America and that more money will be put into highway systems and other public projects. He stated that the Wadsworth Grandview grade separation project is a good demonstration of President-elect Barack Obama's plan to re-invest in the country's infrastructure.
Arvada Mayor Bob Frie also spoke at the ceremony. “The completion of this project is a tremendous accomplishment, not only for Arvada but for the northwest metropolitan area,” stated Mayor Frie. “With the separation of Wadsworth Bypass from the railroad, the significant traffic delays that used to occur have been eliminated. The traffic delays were not only inconvenient, but were a threat to public safety.”
CDOT Executive Director Russell George stated, “This is a huge accomplishment for CDOT and a wonderful enhancement to our transportation system. CDOT’s commitment and leadership from the planning stage to the final completion during the last 10 years is a true example of dedication and partnership with the local governments to complete such a complex and challenging project. With all of the improvements this grade-separated project achieved, motorists are now able to access their community more efficiently and bring together communities once separated by Wadsworth Boulevard.”
Arvada City Councilmember Lorraine Anderson, whose dedication and hard work in regional transportation through the Denver Regional Council of Governments was instrumental in moving this project forward, also noted the significance of rejoining the two historical areas of Olde Town Arvada and the Stocke-Walter neighborhood. “This project has reunited two historic neighborhoods after 50 years of being divided by a major State highway,” she said. “It just goes to show that with good planning and vision, we can enhance our neighborhoods while meeting the need for regional mobility.”
The project commenced in October of 2006. Wadsworth Bypass was lowered by nearly 25 feet and a bridge constructed above to accommodate Grandview Avenue, the Burlington Northern tracks, and a pedestrian plaza. Abutments and the center foundation are built to commuter rail standards to accommodate the Gold Line as part of the Regional Transportation District’s FasTracks program. Construction has been under the jurisdiction of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) through contractor Hamon Contractors. The City of Arvada has worked closely with CDOT for a number of years on the project to complete studies and design work and ensure that the needs of the Arvada community are met. Funding for the $32 million project was secured from a number of sources, including $19 million in Federal and State formula funds, $6 million from Arvada, and $5.7 million in Federal earmarks.
The Wadsworth Grandview grade separation project has been remarkable in many aspects, particularly in the fact that the driving public noticed little additional inconvenience during construction. Roadway traffic was detoured to a temporary roadway along the West side of Wadsworth, allowing for three lanes of traffic in both directions. Railroad traffic was detoured to a temporary “Shoofly” along the South side of Grandview Avenue, with temporary Railroad crossings built. Carol Zinanti, whose home is directly adjacent to the new overpass, had this to say about the construction project: “Thank you Arvada and CDOT for supporting, overseeing, and funding this project which made the bridge possible. Thanks to Hamon and other contractors for their quality employees and the excellent work they did. The general public does not appreciate the skill and hard work, sometimes in extreme weather conditions, that is involved in such endeavors. I appreciate how you have all worked towards a solution which significantly enhances the flow of traffic, reduces noise and pollution, welcomes people to Olde Town Arvada, connects the business and residential historical areas, and helps create a feeling of community.”
The Wadsworth Grandview grade separation project has been remarkable in many aspects, particularly in the fact that the driving public noticed little additional inconvenience regardless of the project’s scope.
In the early 1900s, an interurban trolley line serving the Leyden mine area was built where Wadsworth Bypass exists today. In fact, the line was grade separated from the rail line that existed along what is today the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe track. The 1902 photograph attached to this press release shows the first cut being constructed.
In the 1950s, the Colorado State Highway Department built Wadsworth Bypass and filled in the cut for the new roadway. Over time, however, the volume of traffic on Wadsworth has increased dramatically. The impact of an at-grade railroad crossing at this location became unacceptable. An average of five trains per day cross Wadsworth Bypass—often during peak traffic periods. Prior to the grade separation, traffic was stopped each time for eight to ten minutes, with a traffic “recovery” period lasting as long as 20 minutes. Given that over 50,000 vehicles travel through the area each day, it is estimated that a total of 40 hours of vehicle delay occurred with each train passage, or 24,100 vehicle delay hours annually.