Projects

Project FAQ

Several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) have been answered in the course of the Environmental Assessment public involvement process. These have been published in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Aspen Times, made available at Public Open Houses and other events, or have been distributed via email and hand-delivery.

General project FAQs are below. FAQs related to specific interest areas are available through these links.

FAQs on Impacts to Downtown (February 26, 2013)

Open House Bypass Conversation Circle Responses (January 9, 2013)

Alternatives Development Process FAQs

Level 2B/C Evaluation FAQs (May 31, 2012)

Stakeholder Alternatives FAQs August 2012 (August 17, 2012)

Preferred Alignment FAQs September 2012.pdf (September 10, 2012)

Earlier Process FAQs

Project FAQs

Q.  Who was involved in the process to study bridge alternatives?
A.  CDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, technical consultants, community leaders, and the public.

Several project teams or groups were involved and each had a specific purpose and role.

Lead Agencies – The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration were the lead agencies who conducted the formal Environmental Assessment (EA) process for rehabilitating or replacing the Grand Avenue Bridge.

Consultant team – The consultant team, led by Jacobs Engineering, managed the process according to requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which is required for highway construction projects that use federal funds or are considered federal actions.

Project Leadership Team (PLT)  CDOT formed a Project Leadership Team to champion the EA process. The PLT included representatives from CDOT; Federal Highway Administration; the City of Glenwood Springs; the Colorado Bridge Enterprise; Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties; the Glenwood Hot Springs; the Glenwood Chamber of Commerce; the Glenwood Historic Preservation Commission; and the Downtown Development Authority. The PLT was not a decision-making body. Its primary charge was to make sure the study team followed a context sensitive solutions (CSS) process to complete the study. The PLT met monthly or at key milestones to identify actions and decisions to establish goals; implement steps needed to resolve issues; and facilitate formal actions required by councils or boards.

Project Working Group (PWG) – This group executed the EA process. This was a technical team of representatives from CDOT, FHWA, City of Glenwood Springs, Colorado Bridge Enterprise and the consultant team. The group met regularly to address technical issues like the bridge condition, traffic analysis and environmental analysis. The PWG worked with the consultant team to develop the bridge alternatives screening criteria and made recommendations for the development, evaluation, and screening of alternatives.

Stakeholders Working Group (SWG) – This was a citizen participation group that was an outcome of the Visioning Workshop held in early December 2011. It was made up of a diverse group of representatives of the community, businesses and local agencies, chosen based on input from the PLT. At the Visioning Workshop, it was decided that this group would provide input prior to project development milestones on the bridge alternatives and on the EA screening process. This was not a technical group, and it did not make decisions about the project; rather, group members provided feedback to the study team on the community values that were used to refine and screen bridge alternatives.

Issues Task Force – This group was formed when needed to provide input on a specific issue. Members varied depending on the issue the group is tasked with addressing. It was made up of affected stakeholders, technical experts, and the study team. The Issues Task Force worked through the issue and provided recommendations to the PLT and PWG. During the study, issues task forces were formed to provide recommendations on the ramp/elevator design for the new pedestrian bridge, and for other project design elements and aesthetic treatments, including bridge pier design and finishes, bridge barriers and railings, retaining wall finishes, street and bridge lighting, landscaping, and monumentation.  

 

Q.  Who came up with the alternatives for the bridge replacement?
A.  The project consultant team, in coordination with the Project Working Group.

The consultant team included transportation planners and traffic, structural, drainage, and roadway engineers who worked together with CDOT to develop the alternatives based on the project needs using the input received during the project meetings and public outreach activities. The public input came from the Visioning Workshop; the Stakeholder Working Group; various environmental resource and regulatory agencies; and meetings with elected officials, affected stakeholders, and the general public. The consultant team worked with the Project Working Group members, who reviewed and provided input to the alternatives, then made recommendations to refine and screen them according to screening criteria. The Project Leadership Team reviewed the alternatives and the evaluation process to make sure they were consistent with the project Context Statement, Purpose and Need, and Goals.

 

Q.  Who made decisions about what was studied?
A.  The Project Working Group, with public input.

The Project Working Group developed and evaluated the alternatives using input from the public, agencies, and the Project Leadership Team. Both CDOT and the Federal Highway Administration reviewed the alternatives for consistency with the project needs and goals. These agencies had final approval on how to move the project forward. They made their decision based on a thorough review of the project to make sure that:

  • The Environmental Assessment process (see below) was consistent with local, state, and federal laws.
  • The public involvement process was transparent and provided adequate opportunity for meaningful input.
  • The alternatives developed and evaluated included the reasonable range of alternatives.
  • The Preferred Alternative addresses the Purpose and Need for the project.
  • The alternatives considered the environmental impacts, technical feasibility, economic feasibility and other goals identified through the process.

 

Q.  How could I make sure my ideas about the project were considered?
A.  Become involved.

During the EA process, CDOT and FHWA conducted a comprehensive outreach program to make sure that all interested parties had meaningful ways to contribute to the development of the project solution. Some ways the public could get involved in the process are summarized below:

Attend meetings open to the public. These meetings were announced in local media outlets and were held at the Glenwood Springs Community Center at project milestones. They were a great opportunity to ask questions of CDOT and the consultant team, to contribute ideas and to voice concerns in a public forum.

Send an email to CDOT staff. The project website, housed on CDOT’s website, was and continues to be a good place to learn about the project background and the study: (www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge) Individuals could also send an email directly to the CDOT Program Engineer, from a website link.

Schedule a one-on-one meeting with CDOT staff. The public could use the web site contacts to set up a meeting with us and communicate specific concerns and ideas one-on-one.

Attend community and civic organization meetings. CDOT presented project status updates and gathered input to the study through meetings with the Rotary Club, the Glenwood Chamber of Commerce, business owner groups, etc. We kept the web site updated with upcoming presentation dates.

Contact your elected or appointed officials. CDOT and the consultant team held regular briefings and presentations to elected officials and community organizations to keep them informed of project process and to listen to their concerns and those of their constituents. These were the Glenwood City Council, Garfield County Board of County Commissioners, the Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission, the Glenwood Springs River Commission, The Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission, the Elected Officials Transportation Committee, and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.

Talk to members of the Project Leadership Team, Project Working Group, and the Stakeholder Working Group. These groups were involved in regular discussions about study process, alternatives, and what is important to the Glenwood Springs community.

 

Q. How were the alternatives presented by stakeholders considered?
A. The Project Working Group (PWG) evaluated the alternatives using the project’s established process.

Some of the alternatives were similar to those already evaluated during the project’s fatal flaw and comparative evaluations; some were new and unique. The PWG applied the project’s evaluation criteria to the alternative. For example, if they did not meet the Purpose and Need in terms of connectivity and fixing the structural and functional problems with the Grand Avenue Bridge, they were not considered further.

Details of these evaluations completed to date are located here.

The PWG also looked at incorporating some elements in existing alternatives if they add value and are appropriate. Other elements could be useful for future City planning projects.

 

Q.  What is an Environmental Assessment and why was it needed?
A.  It helped determine the best set of improvements to fix the bridge’s problems and evaluated the impacts of the improvements.

The SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge Environmental Assessment (EA) defined the Purpose and Need for the project; described the reasonable alternatives considered; evaluated the social, economic, historical and environmental impacts of the improvements; defined measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate negative impacts of the project; and solicited public involvement and obtained public input for the decision-making process.

The main purpose of the EA was to determine if the project would result in significant impacts. At the EA completion, the Federal Highway Administration issued a Finding of No Significant Impact.

 

Q.  When will construction start?
A. 
Construction of the Build Alternative could begin as early as December 2015 and is anticipated to last approximately 24 to 30 months, including an approximately 90-day full bridge closure during the last 9 months.
A signed decision document is required prior to approval of any major construction project using federal funds or considered a federal action. The decision document (Finding of No Significant Impact) was signed in May 2015. The decision document was issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the government body charged with making the final decision on which alternative should be built. Design will be completed, and construction will start shortly thereafter. However, there are many factors that affect the construction schedule, including scheduling major phases to minimize impacts to the traveling public and downtown businesses.  A final construction schedule will be developed during the final design process. Refer to the FONSI [M.S.1] for a description of construction phasing and detours.

 

Q:  Would the current bridge work with three lanes?
A:  No, because the existing and future traffic require four lanes for optimal operations.

CDOT recently reconstructed the right turn to accommodate double-right turns, which move at least two lanes of traffic both inbound and outbound on the bridge. Before these double-rights were in place, traffic was congested more regularly in both the AM and PM rush hours. The traffic volume demand for this bridge is simply too high for three lanes; therefore, a minimum of four lanes is required to accommodate existing volume and future anticipated traffic growth.

 

Q:  Were buses or light rail considered to reduce traffic demand?
A:  Yes, but even increased transit options would not take a substantial amount of vehicular traffic off of the bridge.

RFTA and local agencies are continually planning improvements to transit options throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. However, with the anticipated future growth in traffic volumes, even if a substantial number of people switched from vehicles to a transit option, this would not remove nearly enough traffic from SH 82 to be able to make Grand Avenue less than four lanes. A redesigned bridge would better accommodate existing and future traffic increases, including additional buses on the bridge. The replacement bridge will have wide enough lanes so that buses and trucks can remain in their own lane, rather than the current practice of taking up both lanes to cross the bridge.

 

Q:  What will happen to the existing pedestrian bridge?
A:   It will be removed as part of the Grand Avenue Bridge project.

The existing pedestrian bridge will be replaced as part of the project. This bridge was designed such that it could be taken apart and rebuilt in another location. As a City-owned bridge, it could be stored by the City until reconstructed at another location.

 

Q:  Will there be bicycle and pedestrian lanes on the bridge?
A:  No, these facilities will be provided on a new pedestrian bridge. 

The new Grand Avenue Bridge will not include either a sidewalk or bike lanes across the Colorado River. These functions will be accommodated by a new pedestrian bridge that will replace the existing pedestrian bridge. The new pedestrian bridge will provide a wider cross-section (16 feet planned) and new connections at both ends. It is being designed to tie into existing facilities at both ends.

 

Q.  How are the study and the bridge construction being paid for?
A.  Mostly Colorado Bridge Enterprise funds.

The Environmental Assessment process, project design and construction of the Build Alternative  are primarily funded by the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, with funds generated under Senate Bill 09-108, also known as FASTER (Funding Advancements for Surface Treatment and Economic Recovery). FASTER created the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business entity within CDOT, with the purpose to finance, repair/reconstruct and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated “poor” by CDOT. More information is available at http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/BridgeEnterprise.

 

Q: What is the Colorado Bridge Enterprise funding eligibility and role?
A: Per the FASTER legislation, “The business purpose of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise is to finance, repair, reconstruct, and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated “poor” by CDOT.”

 

Q:  Will the Colorado Bridge Enterprise money go away if not used to improve or replace the existing bridge?
A: 
The SH82 Grand Ave Bridge was programmed for an Environmental Assessment (EA), and the Preferred Alternative was determined via that process.  If the Preferred Alternative had not met the Colorado Bridge Enterprise funding eligibility as described above, then the funds could not pay for the improvements.

 

Q:  Did the Colorado Bridge Enterprise make the final decision on the Preferred Alternative?
A: 
No, the project followed CDOT’s process, and the Preferred Alternative was determined as a result of the NEPA process.

 

Q.  What happened at the Independent Peer Review (IPR) in June 2012?
A. The IPR team made recommendations that were evaluated and incorporated into the process.

CDOT and FHWA sponsored the workshop. Seven independent experts in roadway, structural, traffic, bridge aesthetics, construction methods, and local issues reviewed all alignment alternatives that had been considered to date. Their recommendations included:

  • Confirmation that Alternatives 1 and 3 are comparatively better than all others, and should be studied further. The project team used this input to make minor revisions to the two alternatives and confirm previous screening.
  • A four-lane alignment on Colorado to address construction impacts and phasing issues. This alternative was not carried forwarded because of impacts to traffic circulation, land acquisition, noise, and Colorado Avenue land uses.
  • A different type of intersection at Laurel. This did not offer additional benefits over the intersections already under consideration, so was not carried forward.
  • Ideas that will be used later in the process, including construction phasing and constructability of various bridge types; and considerations for aesthetics, trail connections, pedestrian circulation, traffic circulation, and utilities. Some of these have since been incorporated into the planning and others will be considered in the design phase.

 

Q.  Did the project team use suggestions from the public for the alternatives?
A. Yes, the alternatives were developed, revised, and enhanced based on feedback received at meetings and through correspondence.

Create a better pedestrian environment under the bridge at 7th Street. The Build Alternative has a higher clearance under a thinner bridge with architectural features.  It also has a larger, better lit area with streetscape under the structure and along 7th Street. 

Improve pedestrian and bicycle connections. The Build Alternative includes connections to Two Rivers Park and downtown Connections on both sides of the new pedestrian bridge have been largely developed based on stakeholder input.

Minimize and reduce impacts on businesses during construction. One of the reasons for developing Alternative 3 as a bridge on a new alignment is that it allows much of the new bridge to be constructed off-line, thereby reducing impacts during construction.  The construction schedule was also developed such that impacts to existing traffic are focused during off-season periods.

Simplify Laurel intersection options. Several options for this intersection were developed following concerns about how easy it would be to navigate. The Build Alternative includes a one-lane five-leg roundabout at the 6th Street/Laurel Street intersection. The roundabout will have enhanced signage, is designed to reduce driver decision points and driver confusion, will better accommodate pedestrian movements, and will address access to adjacent businesses. 

Remove the existing pier in the Colorado River. The Build Alternative was designed to avoid a pier in the river. The existing pier will be removed thereby reducing potential danger to river rafters and reducing the potential for catastrophic bridge failure.

Build an aesthetically pleasing bridge. A wide range of common bridge types were screened out largely for aesthetic reasons. Girder type bridges were eliminated due to the aesthetics of the undersides. Above deck structures were vetted through public input and only those with the most public support were retained.

Reduce the width of the bridge downtown. The width of the bridge was narrowed as it enters downtown. Lane widths were reduced and shoulder widths were reduced. Alternatives that included an attached sidewalk between 7th and 8th Street were vetted with City Council and public meetings.

 

Q.  Which Alignment did the Project Working Group recommend for the Environmental Assessment and how was it chosen?

A. The SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge project team completed the evaluation of the range of  alternatives and identified Alternative 3 as the preferred alignment that was evaluated in detail in the Environmental Assessment. Alternative 3 touches down on the north side of the river near the 6th and Laurel intersection and provides a direct connection to I-70, Exit 116. It also removes through SH 82 traffic from 6th Street and provides a new connection to US 6. More information on the preferred alignment is available here.

The Project Working Group followed an alternatives development and screening process that was developed at the beginning of the process during scoping based on input from the public, agencies, and other stakeholders. This input helped define the project’s Purpose and Need and project criteria. The process was used to develop the alternatives, evaluate the alternatives, and screen the alternatives. The alternative chosen to be carried into the Environmental Assessment as the Build Alternative was the one that best met the project’s Purpose and Need and project criteria.

Once the bridge alignment was selected, additional public input helped define the bridge aesthetics, how to best build the bridge to minimize impacts, and other project details.

 

Q.  Why doesn’t CDOT build a bypass or reroute SH 82 traffic away from the bridge?
A.  A bypass would not solve the existing issues on the poor-rated bridge.

The purpose of this current project—and the dedicated funding it will receive—is to repair or replace this poor-rated bridge. Taking traffic off the bridge does nothing to fix the bridge.

The idea of a SH 82 bypass in Glenwood Springs, or rerouting SH 82 traffic from Grand Avenue, has been talked about for years. A bypass would divert so-called ‘through’ traffic away from the Grand Avenue Bridge—and downtown Grand Avenue. Regardless of whether a bypass or alternate route is constructed in the future, though, the Grand Avenue Bridge—both a vital link and a gateway—requires replacement or repair.

CDOT initiated the SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge project after funding was allocated from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise to specifically fix the problems with the bridge that led to its “poor” rating. Therefore, the purpose and scope of this particular project is limited to identifying the best solution to provide a safe, secure, and effective connection from downtown Glenwood Springs and SH 82 across the Colorado River and I-70 to the historic Glenwood Hot Springs area and I-70.

The ultimate solution to fix the bridge, either by repair or replacement, will not preclude development of a bypass or alternate route option in the future. CDOT is supportive of, and has participated in, exploring ways to include SH 82 improvements or relocation as part of the local community’s long-range plans, and looks forward to working with the City to address mobility improvements and incorporate them into the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP).

As further background into the bypass project, a bypass or relocation of SH 82 project has been most recently studied in the SH 82 Corridor Optimization Plan (COP).  This is a separate project from the SH 82, Grand Avenue Bridge Replacement project, which is funded with Colorado Bridge Enterprise money.  CDOT and the City have worked together on the SH 82 COP, which is focused on SH 82 mobility and has looked into alternatives such as a bypass or relocation of SH 82.  The future steps on that project will require an Environmental Impact Study or an Environmental Assessment, and a separate public process.

Along those lines, the City of Glenwood Springs has a recently adopted Comprehensive Plan that includes the following language:

Continue Planning for a Relocated Route for SH 82

The City should preserve the ability and opportunity to implement a potential relocation of SH 82 within the Roaring Fork River corridor. This direction recognizes that such an alignment may prove to be unfeasible due to environmental, technical, socio-economic, financial, political, or other reasons. The City should conduct a detailed study to identify feasible alternative routes for a relocated SH 82 from I-70 to at least 27th Street. Include estimates of order-of-magnitude cost comparisons. (Note: portions of Midland Avenue may still be needed for the completion of an additional route.) The City should not make land use decisions that preclude the ability to have an additional route for through-traffic along the east bank of the Roaring Fork River.”

And,

“Work with CDOT on the Replacement of the Grand Avenue Bridge

The Grand Avenue Bridge has been categorized by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) as being functionally obsolete (though not structurally deficient), with a Sufficiency Rating of 47.4 out of 100. The bridge’s current width of 37.5 feet from curb to curb does not adequately accommodate four lanes of traffic based on current road standards; the existing lanes widths are just over 9 feet (instead of 12 feet) and no shoulders exist. With the amount of traffic, including truck traffic, crossing the bridge, the narrowness of the lanes is perceived as a safety issue and can add to the congestion found on Grand Avenue. Regardless of any considerations for the future location of SH 82, the Grand Avenue Bridge will need to be widened to four full lanes to optimize safety and traffic flow and to accommodate projected traffic levels, as described in the SH 82Corridor Optimization Plan Strategies.

The Colorado Bridge Enterprise has instituted the FASTER program (Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery) to address the 128 “Poor” bridges statewide, and the SH 82, Grand Avenue Bridge is on that list for replacement. CDOT is conducting a Feasibility Study and, once completed, will undertake the required National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) clearance process, followed by the final design. The processes will involve significant public outreach and the use of Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS). Funding is expected to be available in 2014, with construction anticipated to begin shortly after.

The City will continue to work with CDOT as this project develops.”

 

Q. How were the City’s planning goals considered in the process?
A. The project team considered City plans when evaluating alternatives.

The project evaluation criterion “consistency with local plans” used two relevant City references:

  1. The 2011 Glenwood Springs Comprehensive Plan identifies that the City should work with CDOT on the replacing of the Grand Avenue Bridge and recognized it would need to accommodate four lanes of traffic. The Plan also indicates the City should continue planning for a relocated route for SH82.
  2. A March 2011 City Council Resolution No. 2011-9 stated “ Preserving the Redevelopment Potential of the Confluence Area by Directing Alternate State Highway 82 or Local Bypass Alignments to Other Areas, and Directing that Traffic Mitigation Strategies be Evaluated and Implemented as Soon as Possible.”
  3. The 2006 Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan includes bicycle and pedestrian trail connections in the Grand Avenue bridge project area. This information has been used to help guide pedestrian and bicycle connections on both sides of the Colorado River.
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