CDOT announces GAPP’s a go for July
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A state transportation official said the most recent timeline offered for the Grand Avenue Paving Project ” a schedule that has some segments of the project starting in July ” is final.
This means that any Glenwood Springs City Council input offered to the Colorado Department of Transportation will be taken as a recommendation rather than a concrete decision.
“My direction is, the decision has been made,” CDOT resident engineer Karen Rowe said. “The decision has been made to advertise May 7 as far as we’re concerned.”
GAPP originally was planned for February 2004, but last September, CDOT agreed to push it back a year to 2005. CDOT’s latest plan now brings that date back to July 2004.
The $4 million GAPP is a combination asphalt and concrete paving project. CDOT will grind the street down to the dirt from the southern base of the Grand Avenue Bridge to 23rd Street, then apply a brand new surface.
Rowe’s declaration on Tuesday came as a surprise to several City Council members who attended a Jan. 13 meeting with CDOT. Each council member surveyed said he or she was under the impression the city would have a role in deciding when the project starts.
“That wasn’t the way it was put,” City Councilwoman Chris McGovern retorted after hearing Rowe’s statements. “She left me with the impression that the city was to give some direction.”
McGovern expressed concern that work on the GAPP project could coincide with planned work at the 8th Street and Midland Avenue intersection.
“I don’t think they want to do this. I don’t think they want to shove this down our throat,” McGovern said. “If worse comes to worst, I would suggest we asphalt the whole thing. I think the merchants need to be protected and our tourism base needs to be protected.”
Councilman Dan Richardson also said he was surprised with Rowe’s statements.
“Although I had a suspicion we didn’t have much say, I was under the impression we had a little room to negotiate,” he said.
Richardson said one of his major concerns is about alternative traffic schemes. He said since council was told the project wouldn’t start until 2005, there was no money appropriated in the 2004 budget to pay for ways to ease congestion.
According to CDOT’s latest GAPP schedule, the project will begin in July ” less than six months from now.
The project’s new timeline spans from July 2004 to June 2005.
One of the biggest concerns aired by council members is the planned closure of the 8th Street and Grand Avenue intersection from September to December this year.
“I just think the short notice is going to hinder us to some extent,” Richardson said.
Despite the longer time span of the project, Rowe said all contracts for the work must be signed by June 30 ” the deadline set to take advantage of some newfound federal funding offered by Gov. Bill Owens.
“This money is based on the money the governor gave us,” Rowe said.
The $4 million in funding for GAPP comes from a pool of $146 million in federal dollars allocated to Colorado by Congress to help weather the state’s budget shortfall. In all, Congress allocated $10 billion for states across the country.
Along with shoring up social programs cut because of the budget crisis, Owens is pouring millions into road projects across the state.
Although city officials have no voice in CDOT’s most recent scheduling decision, Rowe pledged that the department would work closely with city engineer Larry Thompson to “address the concerns we promised.”
Despite this promise, City Councilman Dave Merritt asked why CDOT even bothered consulting with the city on the new timeline in the Jan. 13 joint work session.
“They could have done that with a letter, why bother consulting with us?” Merritt asked.
Merritt said the new timeline has set the city back at least four months in terms of planning ways to ease traffic problems that are bound to happen during construction.
“We’re going to be very concerned about what they plan to do in September with the intersection at 8th,” he said. “I’d be very concerned how we can disrupt both 8th and Midland and 8th and Grand at the same time.”
Mayor Larry Emery also said he was under the impression the city would be able to give more input into the timeline, but acknowledged that the city has no real authority to make such a decision.
“When push comes to shove, it’s CDOT’s highway and CDOT can do what it wants,” he said. “It’s their decision and we want to stay on good working terms with them,” Emery said.
Merritt agreed with Emery that when it comes to a state highway, the city is at the mercy of CDOT.
“The problem is, it’s CDOT’s highway,” Merritt noted. “It’s not Grand Avenue, it’s Highway 82.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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