GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Ongoing problems with overflow parking above the new park-and-ride bus facility at 27th Street has the regional transit authority looking at solutions, while the city is prepared to revisit a long-standing gated street closure in the area.
Since the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s new Bus Rapid Transit expanded express service between Glenwood Springs and Aspen began last September, there have been parking shortages at some of its new park-and-ride facilities.
The South Glenwood bus station at 27th Street and South Glen Avenue has 50 parking spaces for commuters headed upvalley.
Almost immediately after the facility opened, later-arriving morning commuters were forced to find parking elsewhere in the vicinity, including along the narrow section of Blake Avenue located just above the park-and-ride.
The city of Glenwood Springs put up new “no-parking” signs to limit the amount of street parking.
What began with police issuing warnings will now get commuters a parking ticket if they park in the restricted area, Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said. Residents and property owners in the area have also complained about parking on private property in the vicinity, he said.
“It seems to have toned down quite a bit since those first two weeks, but it is an ongoing problem,” Wilson said. “The problem is they didn’t size the [park-and-ride lot] correctly for the volume they’ve attracted.”
To ease the parking pressure, RFTA General Manager and CEO Dan Blankenship said the agency has begun talks with Walmart, which has a store in the nearby Roaring Fork Marketplace, to lease a portion of its north parking lot for RFTA bus riders to use.
“There are a couple hundred parking spaces, and quite a few vacant spaces during the day,” Blankenship said. “If we are able to work something out, that would be an ideal location with its proximity to our parking lot.”
Currently, Walmart allows RFTA users to park in its employee parking lot below Blake several hundred feet south of the park-and-ride.
But, while that still works for people trying to catch one of the local buses that stops by Walmart, it’s a long walk for commuters wanting to get on a BRT express bus at the park-and-ride, Blankenship said.
Glenwood Springs City Councilman Ted Edmonds also said during a City Council session on Thursday that he would like to revisit the city’s policy of blocking vehicle access on Blake Avenue between 27th and 29th streets with a gate.
Access has been blocked at that point since Walmart and the larger Roaring Fork Marketplace were first built in the 1980s.
Edmonds was advised by fellow council member Mike Gamba that part of the problem is that the street right of way in that area is too narrow for two lanes of traffic. There have also been property line disputes over the years, and residents in the area were concerned about conflicts with through traffic when Walmart went in.
Council is likely to discuss the policy at a future meeting and decide if any changes should be made in light of the new park-and-ride.
Blankenship said it was hard to know when the bus stations were being built how much on-site parking would be needed.
“There were a lot of discussions about how many spaces we would need, and what the demand would be. Ideally, it would have been great if we could have developed more parking, but we had limited space and a limited budget,” he said of the $46 million BRT expansion.
In Glenwood Springs, Blankenship said the hope was that commuters who originated in West Glenwood or points west would continue to use the West Glenwood park-and-ride and take local buses to the new BRT station.
However, because of uncertainty about bus connections and potential waits to catch a local return bus, many of those people have chosen to drive to the 27th Street facility instead, he said.
Blankenship said he encourages commuters to take a close look at the schedule for local connections, and consider using the West Glenwood park-and-ride to help ease the parking pressure on the south end of town.