Rebuild of South Midland Avenue in Glenwood Springs awaits further analysis
March 13, 2014
While the city of Glenwood Springs plans to focus its street maintenance efforts this year on a couple of neighborhood projects, the question of when and how to fix the crumbling stretch of Midland Avenue south of 27th Street remains on the to-do list for future years.
"I feel bad for the people who have to travel over that section of Midland, and everyone knows it needs work," said Robin Millyard, public works director for the city.
"But it's not just a matter of putting down a fresh layer of asphalt," he said. "It needs a lot more work than that."
The late-winter thaw took its toll on south Midland with a new crop of seasonal pot holes, same as it did throughout the city's street network, Millyard said.
“I feel bad for the people who have to travel over that section of Midland, and everyone knows it needs work. But it’s not just a matter of putting down a fresh layer of asphalt. It needs a lot more work than that.”
Public works director for the city
As it did in other areas, the city responded as best it could with cold-patch mix to fill the holes and erected new signs advising motorists of the road damage.
The approximately one-mile stretch of Midland from 27th Street to Four Mile Road and continuing south on Airport Road was originally built as a Garfield County road before that area of town was annexed in the 1980s.
It's now home to the populated neighborhoods of Glenwood Park, Park West and Cardiff Glen, plus Sopris Elementary School and hundreds of homes, either built, approved or proposed, up Four Mile Road.
What that section of road really needs, Millyard said, is a complete re-build to bring it up to city street standards so that it can handle the volume of traffic it receives.
That would entail expanding the street platform from what's now an average of 22 feet by another 6 to 8 feet, allowing for two driving lanes of at least 11 or 12 feet and adequate shoulders, he said.
That means either cutting into the hillside on the west side of the road, or using fill to extend the platform to the east, Millyard said.
According to Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel, the city has money appropriated this year to continue doing the preliminary engineering to determine what all would need to be done to bring south Midland up to standards, and at what cost.
"Certainly, we do know the condition of the pavement is poor and there are drainage issues," Hecksel said. "Once you get past the obvious, we also have to look at things like what of kind right-of-way issues we have, what kind of rock wall retaining structures would be needed …
"We don't necessarily know what all we need to do to put a road in there that will meet our standards," he said.
Doing so would be a project at least on the scale of the recently completed Donegan Road reconstruction in West Glenwood, and perhaps even more involved, Millyard said.
The Donegan project, which also involved converting an old county road to a city street, took more than $7 million and five years, from 2007 until 2012, to complete, Millyard said.
Rebuilding Midland would likely necessitate partnerships with other entities, such as Garfield County or the Federal Mineral Lease District, in order to adequately fund it, he said.
For this year, the city's limited street maintenance budget is being directed at some smaller projects, including the Vista Drive neighborhood in West Glenwood and the Sopris Avenue/29th Street area of South Grand Avenue.
Those projects, which are being put out to bid this spring, are expected to cost in the range of $1 million each. The Sopris Avenue project also involves FMLD grant funding, in addition to city funds.
Glenwood's streets maintenance budget comes from a dedicated portion of the city's sales tax, and has taken a hit since the economic downturn in 2008, same as other sales tax-funded programs.
Some Glenwood Springs City Council members have already begun hinting at the possibility the city may need to turn to voters to fund some of the larger projects, such as Midland and the proposed Eighth Street connection, through a tax increase. The Eighth Street project has been estimated to cost in the range of $7 million to $12 million to construct, according to a recent feasibility analysis.
"Personally, I think we're at a point where we are going to have to go to voters to get support for some of these things, because our funds are drying up," Mayor Leo McKinney said in the context of another discussion during a recent City Council meeting.
McKinney, as the south Glenwood representative on council, said he's usually the first to hear complaints from constituents about the condition of south Midland.
"Two weeks ago when we were seeing that crazy melt-off, I was getting a lot of phone calls, mostly from parents who were having to drive that stretch to drop their kids off at school," McKinney said.
"The standard answer, unfortunately, is that the problems with Midland are so big that it's not an easy fix," he said. "Our revenues are down, and we are at a point where we're going to have to make sacrifices if we want to see some of these things get done.
"I do hope that, before I leave office, we can do something about Midland," McKinney said.