Glenwood Springs pedestrian bridge access talks postponed to Nov. 7
Ryan Summerlin October 21, 2013
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — City Council will wait until its Nov. 7 meeting to discuss a proposed elevator or ramp access from Seventh Street to a new pedestrian bridge that’s being planned as part of the Grand Avenue Bridge project.
City officials need more time to research the requirements associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for providing handicapped access to the bridge in the event of an elevator malfunction, maintenance shutdown or power outage, or even a potential ramp closure.
Without the specifics of those requirements, council was uncomfortable proceeding as it had planned at its Thursday meeting toward making a decision between the two bridge access options.
“Rather than have the same conversation twice, and lacking that information, we decided it would be better to wait,” Glenwood Springs Mayor Leo McKinney said.
Council is having to weigh dueling recommendations from different city advisory boards and commissions about whether to have the Colorado Department of Transportation design an elevator or ramp structure to provide handicapped access on the south end of the new pedestrian bridge.
The new bridge would replace the existing structure that spans the railroad tracks, the Colorado River and Interstate 70, from Seventh Street on the south to Sixth Street on the north.
It would also be used to carry utilities that are now attached to the Highway 82/Grand Avenue bridge, and need to be relocated before construction can begin on the new highway bridge. The current pedestrian bridge cannot accommodate the utilities, according to CDOT’s bridge designers.
Council must decide whether to have CDOT proceed with either an ADA-compliant ramp or a tower feature on the south end of the pedestrian bridge with one or two elevators.
Both the Downtown Development Authority board and the Glenwood Springs Historic Preservation Commission have recommended the elevator option.
In favoring an elevator, they and some council members have cited the obstruction of views from Seventh Street, including several restaurants, north across the river that would be caused by an elongated, switch-back style ramp structure taking up the better part of the 200 block.
A ramp would also result in a loss of usable plaza space, the DDA board pointed out in a letter recommending that the city choose the elevator option.
Meanwhile, the city’s Transportation and River commissions each said they would prefer a ramp, citing among other things maintenance and security concerns that could be associated with operating an elevator.
City department heads, after reviewing the two options, also recommended the ramp alternative.
Elevator proponents have suggested than an open-air, lift type of elevator would alleviate some of the safety concerns associated with an enclosed elevator.