GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - A draft plan that could limit pedestrian crossings and vehicle access onto and off of Grand Avenue at two downtown Glenwood Springs intersections is the subject of a late-afternoon city council work session today.
Council members are set to meet with the city's transportation commission at 4 p.m., prior to tonight's regular council meeting, to discuss the Colorado Department of Transportation's State Highway 82 Access Control Plan.
Formal action to adopt the plan is not anticipated until sometime in early 2013, so today's meeting is intended to be informational only.
But it is the first time council members have had a chance to discuss the various options and recommendations included in the draft plan with their appointed transportation commission. The commission is charged with advising council on various transportation-related issues.
Some of the recommendations relating to the downtown section of Grand Avenue from Eighth to 10th streets have become a point of contention for a new citizens group that is also opposing CDOT's separate plans for a new Grand Avenue Bridge.
At a recent city council meeting, Citizens to Save Grand Avenue representatives said the combination of a new bridge that would keep Highway 82 traffic on Grand Avenue, along with the possible elimination of the traffic light at Eighth Street, could ruin downtown.
The group is circulating a petition and may consider legal action to try to halt the planned federal Environmental Assessment for a new bridge. Instead, they would rather see a new planning effort to identify potential alternate highway routes through or around Glenwood Springs.
Although the Access Control Plan and the bridge project are separate, a new bridge, once built, could be one of the triggers for implementing the access control measures, according to a memo from city engineer Terri Partch.
One of the recommendations in the plan is to do away with two of the four signalized intersections downtown, either at Eighth and 10th streets, or at Ninth and 11th. Traffic movements would also be limited to right turns only at those two intersections.
City staff is recommending council adopt the right-in, right-out restriction at Eighth and 10th streets, but keeping Ninth and 11th as full-movement intersections.
"... This option ranks the highest in promoting pedestrian access, traffic calming and beautification of our downtown area while still striking a balance with increasing vehicular traffic and safety concerns," according to the memo from Partch.
The option also would allow the city to build landscaped medians along Grand, "increasing the aesthetics of the downtown corridor and promoting a calmer, slower movement of traffic through the area," the staff recommendation states.
In addition, according to the staff memo, the recommended option would:
• Limit noise from car and truck breaking and acceleration to one, instead of two intersections, "improving the experience of residents and visitors at the outdoor cafe areas" between Seventh and Eighth streets.
• Reduce the width of the new Grand Avenue Bridge by eliminating the left-hand turn lanes at Eighth, and allowing for an attached handicapped-accessible pedestrian ramp connection on the bridge.
• Maintain the current "Safe Routes to Schools" designated route on Ninth Street.
Among the disadvantages cited in the staff memo for the Eighth/10th street option are:
• Moving pedestrians from the highest volume crossing at Eighth to either Ninth Street or a possible new pedestrian crossing under the new bridge at the alley between Seventh and Eighth.
• Elimination of the Eighth Street connection to Garfield County and city of Glenwood Springs government facilities.
• Eliminating a direct connection to a future Eighth Street extension west to Midland Avenue.
• The likely loss of parking on at least one side of Grand Avenue due to medians.