Community Input Helps SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge Project
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs community has responded with an abundance of input following a recent SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge public open house that presented initial options under consideration for the Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA is a study that will determine the best option for rehabilitating or replacing the bridge. The bridge has been rated as “poor” and is in need of replacement or repair by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado Bridge Enterprise.* An EA is required because the study is using federal funds. Over 90 people attended the open house exhibits, talked with study team members, and provided ideas on the initial bridge alignments and the options for what to include on the bridge. In addition, almost 20 official comment forms and an equal number of e-mails were received up to the public meeting input cut-off date of April 25.
A wide variety of input was received and reviewed by the project team, who will use this input to help improve the options under consideration and also help eliminate options that don’t work as well. For example, one of the comment form questions asked how important it is for this project to address the existing problems with the bridge. Fifty-eight percent of attendees said it was extremely important, 21 percent said it was either important or somewhat important, while no one said it wasn’t important. However, 21 percent of attendees didn’t respond. This confirms that fixing the existing bridge problems should be a priority of the project, but it also indicates that it may not be the most important problem to resolve, according to respondents.
One comment that was seen (and heard) many times in the responses was the need to consider a bypass or alternate route. There were many reasons given for this comment though they generally were focused on getting through traffic off of Grand Avenue through Glenwood Springs. While construction of a bypass is not part of this Environmental Assessment to address the poor-rated Grand Avenue Bridge, the comments indicate the importance of considering all transportation problems related to the bridge, as well as looking for solutions that are compatible with not only a future potential bypass or alternate route, but other potential projects and improvements in Glenwood Springs.
Some of the other more frequently heard and written responses included:
- Specific concerns for the impacts that one-way couplet options would have to existing downtown businesses and the planned library and parking garages.
- Recognition that a one-way couplet option that included putting some SH 82 traffic on Colorado Avenue could thereby enhance Grand Avenue by removing some traffic.
- Concern about increased traffic speeds downtown as a result of bridge improvements.
- Desire to keep pedestrian and bicycle movements separate from general SH 82 traffic.
- Interest in replacing the existing Grand Avenue Bridge with an iconic structure.
- Recognition that while parking is important downtown, it may not be as important on Grand Avenue.
- Large roundabouts were generally less favorable than smaller roundabouts.
- Large flyover type structures might be too ugly for Glenwood Springs.
- Too much change to existing traffic patterns was a concern to many.
- The economic viability of downtown and north Glenwood is very important.
- Opportunities for redevelopment were seen as a positive by some.
- The belief that changes to the existing route through Glenwood was not needed or desired.
- The need for a bridge replacement over bridge rehabilitation was questioned.
There was also a good deal of input on how the alternatives are being developed and screened. While some thought the information presented was very good, others wanted more information and detail. There was a lot of interest expressed in what a future bridge might look like and how pedestrians and bicyclists will be able get across the Colorado River and access the Glenwood Canyon Trail and Two Rivers Park. There was also a lot of interest in seeing more information on how pedestrians and traffic would get around downtown under the one-way couplet options.
“We received very good input during and after the public meeting,” Joe Elsen, CDOT’s Region 3 East Program Engineer, said. “Some of the input will help us improve our existing options and some will help us improve how we conduct the project. While some of what we heard was critical of the ideas we put on the table, using this input helps this to become a project more in tune with the community.”
CDOT and its consultants are continuing to meet with the public and other stakeholders, either through the Stakeholder Working Group, individuals, interested civic groups, or elected and appointed boards. The study team provides regular updates to the Glenwood Springs City Council and the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners. Interested individuals and groups are encouraged to contact Joe Elsen to schedule a project briefing or presentation.
CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are conducting the EA, and all public comments will become a part of the draft document, and available for public viewing. The open house exhibits are part of the background information and documentation on the project that are posted at: www.sh82grandavenuebridge.com. 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 to Projects and “SH 82 Aspen to Glenwood” and check the box.
*Replacement or repair of the Grand Avenue Bridge will be funded through the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business entity within CDOT. The Colorado General assembly created the statewide Bridge Enterprise via Senate Bill 09-108, also known as FASTER (Funding Advancements for Surface Treatment and Economic Recovery www.coloradodot.info/projects/faster). The purpose of the Bridge Enterprise is to complete designated bridge projects that involve the financing, repair, reconstruction and replacement of bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated “poor” by CDOT.