GLENWOOD SPRINGS — The proposed South Bridge connection to State Highway 82 will have to remain on hold for now, after not being included among more than $349 million in Colorado public partnership projects recently selected for funding by state transportation officials.
In June, the city of Glenwood Springs teamed up with Garfield County to apply for a $30 million “public-public partnership” grant from the state’s Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program.
The city and the county were to each cover 10 percent of the estimated $39 million cost to continue work on the project, which has already gone through an extensive environmental assessment to determine a feasible route.
As envisioned, the project would include a roundabout at the intersection of Midland Avenue, Four Mile Road and Airport Road, and a major upgrade of Airport Road south to the municipal airport.
A preferred route from there calls for extending the road beneath the south end of the airport runway to a new bridge across the Roaring Fork River and signalized intersection at Highway 82 just south of the Holy Cross Energy headquarters.
The new road and bridge would provide another route to Highway 82 and points east toward Carbondale and Aspen from the South Glenwood and Four Mile Road areas. Currently, the primary route to and from that area is via the 27th Street Bridge and Midland Avenue.
It would also provide a second evacuation route in the event of a wildfire, rock slide or other natural disaster.
In fact, it was the 2002 Coal Seam Fire that prompted the original proposal for a new south route out of Glenwood Springs. Then-3rd District Congressman Scott McInnis was able to help secure $4.5 million in federal funding for planning purposes. Most of that money was used to prepare the required environmental assessment for the South Bridge project.
However, a list of projects selected for RAMP funding from the Colorado Department of Transportation did not include the South Bridge project.
Overall, a total of $349 million worth of small, medium and large public-public partnership projects were awarded funding.
Another $280 million in major public-private partnership projects were also awarded funding, as were $65 million in so-called “operations” projects.
In addition to the South Bridge proposal, eight other projects in Garfield County totaling $18 million were vying for RAMP public partnership funds this year. One of those projects, a $5.6 million upgrade at the intersection of State Highways 13 and 6 west of Rifle, was fully funded.
The vast majority of the projects funded this year are on the Front Range.
Other projects in neighboring counties making the RAMP funding cut included the Interstate 70 Simba Run underpass in Eagle County, $14.6 million; I-70 Eagle interchange upgrade, $3.5 million; I-70 Glenwood Canyon variable speed signing in Eagle and Garfield counties, $2.2 million; and I-70 Vail chain station improvements, $4.5 million; I-70 Horizon Drive improvements in Grand Junction, $4 million.