This is an open letter in response to the advertisement placed in the Wednesday, Jan. 23, edition of the Post Independent by Gregory Durrett and the organization called "Take Back Grand Avenue."
I take great exception to some of the statements made in this advertisement and opinion piece.
First, the photographs depict a community as it existed 50 years ago, with a Grand Avenue that supported a valleywide and city population just a small fraction of what we have today. That Glenwood Springs exists only in like memorabilia, as well as the memories of those fortunate enough to have grown up here in the early and middle parts of the 20th century.
That Glenwood Springs will not return. But we can work to ensure that the very best design elements and practices of those simpler times are fostered in our planning and development efforts.
The city's elected leadership relies on these shared core values to guide our decision making, and the city's CDOT project team has taken innovative approaches to gain an understanding of our community values and has worked to incorporate these values in the plans developed so far.
So let us all gain a clear understanding of what the Grand Avenue bridge project entails: Construction will not be painless and will periodically impact downtown businesses, some more than others.
As a second point, I feel Mr. Durrett's statements should be placed in context with an understanding of what he did not write: He does have personal or family ownership interests in several properties and business within the downtown core. It's easy to see that bridge construction activity may negatively impact his investments. Many other downtown business and property owners have shared those concerns.
But I very much believe the benefits of the end product have a tremendous potential to drive better downtown pedestrian access, vitality and livability, all of which has the potential to lead to significant and sustained economic growth - growth that benefits us all.
So it is the mandate of the city's elected leaders to limit the construction period impacts as much as possible. As construction plans and designs are just now starting to be developed, this is where we turn our focus.
I urge all citizens to find some time to attend open houses sponsored by the city and CDOT regarding bridge construction, as well as the proposed Access Control Plan. Please come and ask questions of the leadership team and elected representatives.
I also encourage residents to ask those in opposition to these initiatives, those who articulate our shared desire to make Glenwood Springs a better place, to also state exactly what their personal and financial interests are in maintaining the status quo.
Frankly, let me state that I find the current traffic and pedestrian flow conditions on Grand Avenue in our downtown core unacceptable, and I believe these conditions limit our city's ability to grow in ways that support our shared values.
As many members of the community have stated, the problem has been 60 years in the making, and it only gets worse as more folks decide to make our valley part of their lives.
Saying "no" once again makes it harder for our next generation to fix. Saying "no" also does not make the existing bridge any safer for jet fuel tankers, gasoline tankers or any other vehicle transporting hazardous materials through Glenwood Springs.
Opposing these plans does not in any way advance the concept of a bypass or a rerouting of state Highway 82 traffic. CDOT Region 3 East Program Engineer Joe Elsen explicitly stated that point by at the recent Grand Avenue Bridge Issues and Answers event.
A bypass or alternative route is something I very much support, but my enthusiasm is tempered by the sobering reality that such a scheme would impact our community in a much greater way than this bridge project and changes to Grand Avenue access.
Matthew Steckler is the mayor of Glenwood Springs.