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March 11, 2014
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Council dives into particulars of 8th St. link

The city of Glenwood Springs is likely looking at something north of $7 million, and possibly upwards of $12 million, to build the proposed Eighth Street connection, according to an engineering feasibility study that will be on the table for discussion at a special City Council work session this evening.

Several alignment and design options to get over, under or across the existing Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) railroad “wye” that comes into play will also be presented when council convenes at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to consider the next steps in pursuing the project.

Depending on the type of railroad crossing, and especially if a street overpass is built, the project may also require replacement of the Eighth Street bridge over the Roaring Fork River because of the grade difference, the study contemplates.

A new bridge could also be expanded from the current two lanes to a three- or four-lane span, under some of the alternatives envisioned in the study.

Council moved the Eighth Street link to the top of its priority list last year, saying it would be a more-desirable option for a detour route as the Colorado Department of Transportation moves ahead with the Grand Avenue/Highway 82 bridge replacement project.

CDOT is still exploring the use of Midland Avenue from the West Glenwood Interstate 70 interchange to 27th Street, and back onto Highway 82 at the south end of town, for a detour route during an approximately two-month period when the highway bridge will be out of commission.

That is anticipated to happen sometime in 2016, according to the bridge construction schedule currently being studied as part of a formal environmental assessment that is expected to be completed this year.

However, bridge project officials have said they would consider the proposed new Eighth Street link as a detour option if it can be built in time. CDOT may also be willing to work with the city to help make it happen.

Currently, Eighth Street ends just west of City Hall and short of the two legs of railroad tracks that are still used on a limited basis by the Union Pacific Railroad, but are now owned by RFTA.

In addition to operating the valleywide bus system, RFTA also oversees the paved public trail that runs along the Aspen branch of the old Rio Grande rail corridor from Glenwood Springs to Woody Creek.

The idea is to connect the street through that area to the existing Eighth Street bridge — less than 1,000 feet of new road — and across the Roaring Fork River to Midland Avenue.

Midland is currently accessed from downtown Glenwood via Seventh Street, which curves under the railroad tracks to meet the Eighth Street bridge.

The city, for many years, has envisioned the new street connection as a way to help ease traffic flow in the downtown area. However, finding a way to build the street connection while maintaining the functionality and safety at the railroad crossing has always been an obstacle.

Since RFTA took over ownership of the former Rio Grande corridor in 2001, that section of track is now legally railbanked as a means of preserving it as a transportation corridor. The legal status also serves to protect the existing trail.

Among the “challenges” to building the street connection outlined in the feasibility study that was prepared for the city by Jacobs Engineering include:

• Whether to cross the railroad tracks at-grade or via an underpass or overpass, and how that would tie into the Eighth Street bridge.

• Property impacts on both sides of the wye area.

• Drainage concerns.

• Maintaining access to adjacent properties.

• Cost and schedule to construct the project.

The feasibility study contains six alternatives, including various street alignments, options for an underpass or overpass, bridge replacement, and the possibility of realigning the railroad tracks so that only one section would need to be crossed.

The least expensive alternative would range from $6.8 million to $7.5 million, according to a cost comparison that was included as part of the study.

Options that might better address some of the concerns with adjacent property owners and the railroad, according to the engineering analysis, would creep into the $9 million to $12 million range.

The feasibility study recommends that three of the six alternatives be considered by City Council for further engineering analysis, and negotiations with RFTA and the Union Pacific to determine if they would be acceptable.

CDOT is still exploring the use of Midland Avenue from the West Glenwood Interstate 70 interchange to 27th Street, and back onto Highway 82 at the south end of town, for a detour route during an approximately two-month period when the highway bridge will be out of commission.


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The Post Independent Updated Mar 12, 2014 08:55PM Published Mar 11, 2014 11:08PM Copyright 2014 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.