CDOT may meet city halfway on pedestrian ramp
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Colorado Department of Transportation officials on Tuesday said it’s unlikely CDOT will foot the bill for a new pedestrian ramp downtown.
But CDOT Region 3 director Owen Leonard said it’s possible CDOT would split the cost with the city. The project would cost around $300,000 if the current design is used.
“If you can’t meet us in the middle, I don’t think I can support using that type of funding,” Leonard said.
City Council has recently been mulling over the idea of closing the “wing” street that connects northbound Highway 82 with 7th Street just before the Grand Avenue Bridge. Council wants to get the plan approved soon so construction of the pedestrian ramp could coincide with the Grand Avenue Paving Project, or GAPP, because the roads already will be torn up.
The current connection between the city’s downtown pedestrian bridge and Grand Avenue consists of a thin, metal ramp that runs alongside Highway 82 on the Grand Avenue Bridge and touches down next to the wing street.
Leonard gave the city a ray of hope by saying that if the street and pedestrian ramp are deemed by CDOT to be safety hazards, there might be funds available to fix the problem. But he also said CDOT makes such designations strictly by counting accident statistics. The wing street hasn’t had too many accidents over the years, Glenwood Springs police chief Terry Wilson said.
CDOT region 3 program engineer Joe Elsen suggested designing a cheaper alternative to replacing the ramp.
“There may be a more efficient design,” he said, later saying such a design could possibly cut the construction cost by 30 percent.
Mayor Don Vanderhoof said he’d like to know if funding will be available before council decides to close the wing street.
“We need to find out if there’s going to be any state funding for it. Then we’ll make a decision,” he said. “I don’t think City Council wants to go through the pain of closing the street if funding isn’t available.”
After the meeting, Vanderhoof said if it’s determined that the city wants the project, he thinks it’s possible that City Council would work with CDOT to get it done.
“I think there’s a possibility we would work with them on a 50/50 basis if that’s the way we want to go,” he said.
Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority director David Hauter said the replacement of the pedestrian bridge and closure of the wing street are important for public safety, but the project also is urgent for the overall health and vitality of downtown.
He also said he’d work to try and convince those opposed to the project that, in the long run, it would be a boon to their business.
“It’s going to be a benefit to all businesses and the DDA wouldn’t be supporting it if it wasn’t,” he said. “We’re talking about improvements at the front door of these businesses that will only benefit them.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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Following Glenwood Springs City Council Member Steve Davis’ resignation, the council approved a timeline for filling his seat during a special meeting Thursday.