GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Replacement of the Grand Avenue Bridge would trigger some of the recommendations in a draft Highway 82 Access Control Plan aimed at limiting side-street access through downtown Glenwood Springs.
City Council, at a work session with transportation planners last week, asked for more information about a recommendation to remove two traffic signals between Eighth and 11th streets, and how that might affect pedestrian crossings.
One recommendation would be to do away with or downgrade traffic signals at the intersections of Eighth and 10th streets as a way to promote better flow of highway traffic through the downtown area, according to the draft plan.
The new 20-year master plan that is currently in the works should also give equal consideration to pedestrians as vehicle traffic, some council members said.
"My concern is that the access plan appears to be a vehicle-driven interest," Councilman Dave Sturges said at a Sept. 20 meeting with Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) officials and transportation consultants who are drafting the plan.
"I want to make sure the access plan discussion is not exclusively about vehicle movement, and that we look at ways to make this a walkable community," Sturges said.
The broader access plan, which takes in the stretch of Highway 82 from the area near Orrison Distributing south of town through Glenwood Springs to Interstate 70 Exit 116, would be triggered by future development or redevelopment at key intersections.
However, the recently announced "preferred alignment" identified by planners working on the Grand Avenue Bridge project would be the trigger to drive some of the decisions about access onto the highway in the downtown area, said Rosa Silver, city of Glenwood Springs transportation manager.
One option requested by council members would be to include a pedestrian-only signal at Eighth and Grand, even if the full-movement traffic signal is eliminated, Silver said.
Another recommendation in the draft access plan to close off the South Grand access onto Highway 82 across from 23rd Street was also driven by pedestrian interests, she said.
The proposal would close the west side of the intersection but allow access on the east side from 23rd Street onto Highway 82/South Glen Avenue to continue.
The Rio Grande Trail crossing at that point, and safety concerns given the odd angle of the intersection, were key factors in the recommendation, Silver said.
Councilman Stephen Bershenyi expressed concerns about the potential closure of that intersection.
"There are some real neighborhood concerns there," he said. "That's an area where some of the business owners already feel ignored."
One businessman in the area said the recommended intersection closure would further isolate that stretch of South Grand Avenue.
"It's a terrible idea, and it would just be trading one problem for another," said Justin Glasenapp, sales manager at Abbey Carpets.
"All of that traffic would be diverted to 27th Street, and you have many of the same conflicts there," he said. "We're already off the beaten path, but having two ways to get here is beneficial. I'd certainly like to see that intersection kept open."