Stakeholders Review Alternatives for Grand Ave. Bridge
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The planning process for the Grand Avenue Bridge project took another positive step forward Monday when the Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) convened to review the project with CDOT and its consultant, Jacobs Engineering. The SWG is a new citizen-participation group that came out of the project visioning workshop held in early December. The SWG is made up of local citizens and organizations helping CDOT evaluate the alternatives through the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the bridge. The EA process will be finalized in 2013 and construction could begin in 2014.
At the meeting, SWG participants reviewed information—including public issues and concerns—that was gathered at the previous visioning workshop. Essentially, all input from the public, resource agencies and the Project Leadership Team are key criteria used to evaluate bridge alternatives during the EA process.
Stakeholders reviewed the processes used for formally evaluating and eliminating design alternatives through three steps: 1) identify those that do not meet the project “purpose and need” (an EA-specific requirement) or that have environmental or technical problems that can’t be overcome; compare the remaining design alternatives and to one another to further screen out alternatives that don’t meet the purpose and need, project goals or other criteria and 3) screen the remaining alternatives through a more detailed, quantitative analysis (for example, the alternatives and their impacts are looked at in more depth, evaluating things such as historic structures and wetlands impacted.
“The screening approach is a very positive way to find the right solution,” said Joe Elsen, CDOT’s Region 3 east program engineer. “What I like best about it is that it keeps the process unbiased and free of any predisposed ideas about what the ultimate solution will be. At the end of the day, the preferred alternative will be the right alternative for Glenwood Springs, CDOT and the public.” (Photo on right - Single Bridge Alignments)
The SWG then reviewed the first recommendations for bridge alternatives that meet the first screening level. Because the alternatives are in the early stages of development, they are kept to broad alignments and elements of the bridge’s crosssection (travel lanes, shoulders, etc.).
Alternatives included both single bridge and paired (called “couplet”) alignments that start on Grand, Colorado and Cooper on the south side and land at the Pine, Maple, Laurel or I-70 intersections on the north side.
After learning about the decision process and alternatives, the SWG broke into small groups and discussed issues that could be used to compare the alternative alignments. This input will be incorporated into the alternatives evaluation process. (Photo to the left - Paired (Couplets)Alignments)
The SWG will meet regularly (about once a month) as the alternatives selection process continues. CDOT and Jacobs are also initiating other ways to increase public input on the project. Presentations will be given to several civic groups and elected and appointed boards, including the Glenwood Springs City Council (Thursday, March 1 at 5:00pm) and the Garfield County Board of Commissioners (Tuesday, March 13 at 8:00am). A public open house is also scheduled for Wednesday, April 4, at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, from 4:30 to 7:00pm.
David Hauter, one of the members of the SWG, said that the meeting generated constructive comments and was a good opportunity for members of the public, who are directly affected, to provide input. I think that it is going to be essential that the Stakeholder Working Group stays involved in the project, he said. “We are at a critical point, and it will be telling how the process unfolds in the next few months.”
Those wanting to receive project updates can sign up via CDOT’s free message system. Go to www.coloradodot.info and click on green cell phone in the upper right hand side of the page. After signing in, scroll down the “Projects” list to “SH 82 Aspen to Glenwood” and check the box. The project also has a website, www.sh82grandavenuebridge.com.
(Photo below - The SWG brainstorms issues to compare alternatives against each other)