“A big decision” Glenwood Council to decide Thursday on vehicle traffic for Seventh Street
Should vehicle traffic be allowed back on Seventh Street?
That’s what the Glenwood Springs City Council will vote on at their regular meeting Thursday.
Currently, orange and white barricades between Colorado and Cooper avenues prohibit vehicles from accessing the “festival street,” which cost over $2 million to build.
If council agrees to city staff’s recommendation, the stretch of street will remain closed to motorized traffic.
“We recommend that [Seventh] Street remain closed,” stated a recent city staff report.
According to the same correspondence, approximately 9,000 vehicles utilized Seventh Street daily prior to the Eighth Street connection across the Roaring Fork River to Midland Avenue.
“In viewing how it’s operating today, I feel, and I believe the police department also feels that, it really reads like a pedestrian plaza,” said City Engineer, Terri Partch. “It’s a potential safety issue with having people that are unfamiliar with it use it like a pedestrian plaza and also having vehicles.”
The Glenwood Springs Police Department, in an Aug. 26 letter to Partch, threw its support behind keeping Seventh Street closed with a few exceptions for emergency use, and possible time-limited access for deliveries.
In the letter signed off by former Chief of Police Terry Wilson and Acting Chief Bill Kimminau, the department believed Seventh Street’s current configuration would need “substantial change” to provide safe passage for pedestrians if opened to vehicles.
“People have gotten so used to just being able to walk through there whenever they want,” said Kimminau in an interview Tuesday. “All of the traffic coming across the [pedestrian] bridge walking through there…somebody is going to get hit by a car.”
While city staff support keeping Seventh Street free of vehicles, public opinion remains “split” according to the same city staff report.
According to stakeholder feedback submitted to the city, 22 respondents were against allowing vehicular traffic on Seventh Street, whereas 11 favored it.
“We’d like [Seventh] Street open to vehicular traffic,” stated Cece and David Zumwinkle, owners of Juicy Lucy’s Steakhouse at 308 Seventh St. “Occasionally closing for an event but not seasonally.”
Additionally, the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in a 6-1 vote, favored opening Seventh Street to vehicles with periodic closures for events.
However, in a city of over 10,000, council hopes to hear from more residents at or before its meeting at 6:15 p.m. Thursday in city hall, located at 101 Eighth St.
“What do we think as a town as a whole, open it up or should we keep it closed? That’s the input I am looking for,” said Councilor Charlie Willman who remains undecided. “It is a big decision. …Hopefully we’ll make the right decision.”
When asked if keeping Seventh Street closed to vehicles was planned all along, Willman replied no.
Partch also said that it was always envisioned that Seventh Street would reopen to vehicles, until it was closed to traffic during and after this summer’s construction.
“We are a victim of our own success,” said Partch. “It really looks very nice. It looks like a pedestrian plaza and adding vehicles to it will, I think, take away from that use.”
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