News

SH 82 Grand Ave. Bridge Environmental Assessment Points to Two Main Alternatives, with Variations

June 27, 2012 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - GLENWOOD SPRINGS – With continued input from the community and several project teams, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) continue progress on alternatives screening for the Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine the best option for rehabilitating or replacing the Grand Avenue Bridge.

Based on the public input received so far and the additional analysis and evaluation, the Project Working Group (PWG),* with Project Leadership Team (PLT)* endorsement of the process, has recommended two basic alignment alternatives and variations (Alternative 1 and Alternative 3). South Pedestrian Connection Options are also being studied in further detail (see below).

The evaluation of the alternatives used feedback from the June 6 Public Open House and Stakeholder Working Group meetings, and additional technical analysis. The additional technical analysis included more detail on pedestrian movements, traffic operations, property impacts and constructability. Using the criteria previously established for the project, the PWG concluded that two of the alignment alternatives clearly did a better job at meeting the criteria and has carried them forward for additional evaluation. The PWG also determined that intersection options, cross section options, and pedestrian connection options need further evaluation.

As a result, one alignment alternative being further evaluated has three intersection options on the north and three cross section options on the south. The second alignment alternative considers two cross section options across the Colorado River and I-70 and three cross section options on the south side. Several additional items under development and evaluation include the bridge type, bridge aesthetics and construction phasing.

Here are the alternatives, with variations, that are being carried forward for further evaluation:

Alternative 1-A: New 4-lane Grand Ave. Bridge on/near existing alignment - Keep existing pedestrian bridge.

Alternative 1-B: New 4-lane Grand Ave. Bridge on/near existing alignment - Remove existing pedestrian bridge to enhance new bridge aesthetics (peds/bikes on a new bridge).

Alternative 3-A (Intersection Option A): SH 82 separated from 6th Street + Roundabout for local traffic at 6th/Laurel (this is modified based on input received at the June 6 public open house) Sidewalk/path attached to new bridge on east/north side; River Road connected with right-turn only access to SH 82; full acquisition of Shell station and former Dairy Crème.

Alternative 3-D (Intersection Option D): SH 82 separated from 6th Street + “T” intersection to 6th/Pine for local access (new since June 6 Public Open House) - No sidewalk/path on new bridge north of railroad; partial acquisition of Shell Station (south side), traffic signal at 6th/Laurel Intersection; River Road would not connect to SH 82.

Alternative 3-E (Intersection Option E): SH 82 separated from 6th Street + Local access intersection to 6th Street (new based on feedback from June 6 Open House and coordination with businesses) - Adds River Road connection to SH 82, right-in/right-out; possible sidewalk/path on new bridge north of railroad; full acquisition of Shell Station and former Dairy Crème; traffic signal at 6th/Laurel intersection.

The PWG is adding detail to these alternatives to better show traffic circulation, pedestrian/bike facilities, cross section dimensions, and intersection details allowing a more detailed understanding of how well they address project criteria.

Other alternatives:

Many alternatives have been considered during the Grand Avenue Bridge Environmental Assessment (EA), including alternate routes, bypass alternatives, rehabilitating the existing bridge and variations to the alternatives carried forward above.

The alternate route and bypass alternatives have been screened out for this EA as they do not address the problems with the existing bridge. However, the project team, as well as the City of Glenwood Springs, has confirmed that these alternatives are an important consideration in overall mobility needs of the Glenwood Springs area. The City’s Comprehensive Plan includes both the Grand Avenue Bridge project and a future study of a bypass.

The rehabilitation alternative was considered as a lower cost, lower impact way to address the problems. A bridge investigation, documented in a feasibility study, found mostly the opposite. Rehabilitating the bridge was not the lowest cost option and was not the option with the least amount of construction impact. It resulted in a bridge that still had major problems (such as some of the unsafe pier locations), had less opportunity to be a good looking bridge, and was still an old bridge with a shorter life span.

A total of 14 alignment alternatives with several variations, including some developed by public participants have been evaluated. After several sets of evaluation, review and screening, only the two listed above, with variations, remain. The others were found to not compare as well to the criteria established for the project.

“It’s taken a lot of work and public input to get to where we are,” said CDOT Program Engineer Joe Elsen. P.E. “Every time there have been new or revised alternatives, or alternatives have been screened out, it has followed substantial stakeholder input and evaluation.”

The next steps:

  1. An independent Peer Review Panel is being convened to review the technical work done to date and identify any possible solutions to better address the project criteria. The Peer Review Panel includes experts in the fields of bridge design, bridge architecture, traffic, constructability, roadway design and general engineering.

“It’s important to note that this peer review is a step not typically taken until a major project is in its design stage,” said Consultant Project Manager Craig Gaskill. P.E. “This process is beyond the requirements for an Environmental Assessment, but we felt it was important to have this review now on such a critical project. The review is intended to confirm that the right decisions are being made and that the right solutions are being developed.”

The Peer Review Panel will make formal recommendations to the PWG about potentially better alternatives or options, improved ways to reconstruct the bridge, opportunities to reduce or minimize cost, better ways to reduce impacts to the public, businesses and travelers, or a better value related to the project goals. The PWG members will then determine which recommendations to incorporate into the evaluation process.

  1. The alternatives screening will continue as the SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge alternatives, including those proposed by individuals within the community, go through a very specific evaluation process. When alternatives do not meet the project Purpose and Need or don’t compare as well to other alternatives using the project criteria, they are screened out. This process reduces the number of alternatives until there is a Preferred Alternative to evaluate in the EA.
  1. CDOT, FHWA and the study team will continue to consider the ideas and considerations presented to them through outreach and information meetings, emails, and other communication. Both CDOT and FHWA will review all alternatives under evaluation, and ultimately the Preferred Alternative, for consistency with the project needs and goals. These agencies have final approval on how the project moves forward.

Environmental Assessment Background: CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are conducting the EA. All open house exhibits and other background information, documentation and a Frequently Asked Questions page are posted at http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge. Those wanting to receive project updates can sign up via CDOT’s free message system by going to www.coloradodot.info and clicking on green cell phone in the upper right hand side of the page. After signing in, scroll down to “Projects” and choose “SH 82 Aspen to Glenwood.”

*The Colorado Bridge Enterprise is 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). 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.

For more information about the SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge Environmental Assessment, the public may access:  www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge

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