APRIL FOOLS - Flanked by dozens of out-of-work hardrock miners anxious to put their skills back to work, city transportation and Colorado Our Way or the Highway Department officials announced plans this morning for Glenwood Springs' version of Boston's infamous "Big Dig."
Instead of going forward with the planned Grand Avenue Bridge replacement, the Permanent Landing Team (PLT) has been meeting in secret at the CDOT Hanging Lake Tunnel command center for months hatching the new plan.
It will involve tunneling from the north side of the Colorado River at the Interstate 70 Exit 116.
The 1.5-mile underground passage will take Highway 82 traffic beneath the river and follow the old railroad corridor (Glenwood Springs River Trail) underground, coming out at the planned new BRPterodactyl transit facility at 27th Street.
The estimated $50 gazillion project will supplant the previous plans to build a new Grand Avenue Bridge across I-70, the Colorado River and the railroad tracks into downtown Glenwood Springs on the existing State Highway 82.
It also puts to rest the endless frickin' debate about trying to build a Highway 82 bypass above ground on the old Rio Grande railway through town.
The tunnel project will involve buying out the Glenwood Hot Stinks pool if need be, since the deep excavation under the river could affect the aquifer that feeds the local hot springs.
"No worries," said Hot Stinks general manager Shellgame Ritual. "We've made enough money after all these years with the pool."
One possibility, as long as the road is going underground, is to build a large underground steam room or series of rooms off the tunnel," Ritual said. "Can you imagine the marketing possibilities? Talk about a way to trap the tourists."
The surprise shift in direction for the highway and bridge project came after significant strong-arming by Glenwood Springs Mayor Stiff Tackler.
"I know this seems like a radical change in direction, but this is the best plan to reclaim our historic downtown and limit the impacts on the fine people of Glenwood Springs," Tackler said.
At the morning press conference, Tackler also vowed that the project will not fall into the pitfalls of financial and safety mismanagement that plagued the infamous Boston Big Dig.
That project, which took the city's central transportation artery underground and under water, spanned three decades before it was finally completed in 2005. The project is an engineering marvel, but was wrought with mismanagement and extreme cost overruns.
"Being an East Coast conservative, I certainly see the concern for this thing getting out of hand," Tackler said. "But I'm no tea partier, thank you, and the beauty here is we're talking about manufactured federal money. They can print all the money they want and send it our way as far as I'm concerned."