GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - The South Grand Avenue access onto Highway 82 at 23rd Street would not be closed but rather realigned as part of a long-term Highway 82 Access Control Plan.
Colorado Department of Transportation consultants initially recommended eventually closing the South Grand access and removing the traffic signal at the odd-angled intersection as the area becomes redeveloped.
But Glenwood Springs city officials believe those concerns can be addressed by reconfiguring the intersection to create a right angle with Highway 82 and a safer pedestrian crossing.
"The safety issues result from the skew of the road and the RFTA trail," city engineer Terri Partch stated in a memo to City Council and the city transportation commission at joint work session last week.
"However, after receiving concerned feedback from [area] business owners, the intersection is now shown on the plan as remaining open, with realignment," she said.
Several businesses located along the section of South Grand from 23rd to 27th streets had objected to the proposal to close the intersection, which would funnel traffic to the 27th Street intersection at Highway 82/South Glen instead.
The plan does not say how or when the intersection would be realigned. All recommended access changes in the 20-year master plan are subject to future redevelopment of private property, public infrastructure improvements or significant traffic changes.
The Feb. 7 work session was the last in a series of discussions that separated the Highway 82 Access Control Plan into three segments.
Earlier discussions in December and January focused on the downtown area between Sixth and 13th streets, and the midtown section from 14th to 21st streets.
Last week's session concentrated on the South Glen business district, and the area south of town to the Orrison Distributing plant.
The South Glen section is defined by numerous private business driveways on the east side of the highway, and the major intersections at 23rd and 27th streets, and the main entrance into the Roaring Fork Marketplace by McDonald's.
Many of those private driveways would be consolidated and be designated as right-in, right-out only under the long-range access plan.
Left turns could be restricted by the use of center medians on Highway 82, access plan consultant Michelle Hansen said.
To allow motorists to access businesses on the east side of the highway, U-turns would be allowed at major intersections, she said.
Transportation commissioner Ralph Trapani questioned the move away from closing the South Grand access.
"It is a safety issue there with the bike trail crossing, and it's only a matter of time before something serious happens," he said.
Besides the 23rd Street realignment, other aspects of the access plan for that area include:
• 27th Street and the Marketplace entrance remain full movement signals.
• 29th Street becomes a three-quarter-movement intersection, meaning left turns would be allowed onto 29th but not from 29th onto Highway 82.
Outgoing transportation commission member Chris McGovern asked if a business impact analysis could be done as part of the access control plan.
"Once this plan is in place, it's not easy to change," she said, adding that access to businesses stands to be negatively impacted. "We need to be cautious about what we agree to."
The southern section of the access plan also includes possible future changes for the three-mile stretch of Highway 82 outside city limits.
One would be the elimination of the traffic signal at the County Road 154 (Buffalo Valley) intersection. But that would only happen if and when the proposed south bridge project is completed, which would create a new intersection south of the Holy Cross Energy office building.
The south bridge would involve a new route from the west side of the Roaring Fork River extending from Midland Avenue, around the municipal airport to the east side of the river and connecting to Highway 82.
An environmental assessment has been completed and a final decision is expected this summer. However, funding to do the engineering and project construction has not been identified.
A recent change to the midtown section of the access plan would also allow left turns from Grand onto the 15th Street access to Rite Aid and the Executive Plaza, Hansen said.
An earlier recommendation had called for the eventual closure of that business access, except for right-in, right-out turns.
The full Highway 82 Access Plan, including a controversial recommendation to eliminate two downtown traffic signals at Eighth and 11th streets, will be the subject of an open house on Tuesday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.