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December 13, 2012
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New pedestrian span part of bridge study

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A new pedestrian bridge will be included in the upcoming Environmental Assessment for the Grand Avenue Bridge project, Colorado Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday.

"A new pedestrian bridge supports CDOT's mission to provide the best multi-modal transportation system," CDOT Region 3 East Program Engineer Joe Elsen said in a press release. "It's also consistent with state statute requiring the project to address bicyclist and pedestrian needs."

In addition, the Grand Avenue Bridge project team has decided against further study of a roundabout at Sixth and Laurel streets as part of the larger bridge replacement, in favor of a signalized intersection, Elsen said.

A new pedestrian bridge would replace the current one that spans the Colorado River just upstream from the Highway 82 bridge. It also crosses over the railroad tracks on the south and Interstate 70 on the north.

The possibility of a new pedestrian bridge was mentioned in a recent meeting between the project team and Glenwood Springs City Council.

Council members agreed a new, wider, longer and less-steep pedestrian bridge, with better access points on either end, would better meet future needs.

It would also have some advantages in relation to the new highway bridge, according to CDOT.

One is that a pedestrian bridge could carry utility lines that are now on the existing Grand Avenue Bridge.

Because utility service cannot be interrupted during construction of the new highway bridge, and the existing pedestrian bridge does not have enough clearance for the utilities, another option was needed, Elsen explained.

"Relocating the utilities onto a new bridge designed for both utilities and pedestrians could provide overall cost savings to the project and reduce construction impacts," according to CDOT's press release.

The existing pedestrian bridge would also preclude the planned improvements to the I-70 eastbound on-ramp, due to lack of adequate clearance, according to CDOT.

City officials would like to consider using the existing pedestrian bridge structure at another location sometime in the future.

The decision against studying a roundabout option for the intersection of Sixth and Laurel Street, where the new highway bridge is proposed to touch down, also benefits pedestrians, according to the project team.

Designing a signalized intersection would provide more direct pedestrian connections than would a roundabout. It would also lead to better traffic flow and could be constructed with fewer traffic impacts, they said.

City Council last week backed CDOT's preferred alignment for the new bridge, which would span from Grand Avenue on the south and curve to the west over the river to a reconfigured intersection at Sixth and Laurel near the I-70 interchange.

That plan is to be further evaluated through a formal EA process, which is set to begin soon after the first of the year. Construction on the new bridge and related projects would not begin until late 2014 or early 2015, following a two-year-long EA and bridge design process.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 13, 2012 12:46AM Published Dec 13, 2012 12:44AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.