City Council criticizes firms alternative Highway 82 plan
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado The City Council blasted a consultants work on a possible Highway 82 alternative and said more public consensus is needed to move ahead.Mayor Bruce Christensen said at a City Council meeting Thursday night, Im very disappointed that we got almost nothing out of the work thats been done to this point. He added later, I have a problem that weve spent a lot of money on this firm and we have nothing right now.The latest Highway 82 study, called a corridor optimization plan (COP), follows a corridor optimization study and a corridor conditions assessment, and other studies adding up to around 11 in over 30 years that never led to a clear decision being made about what to do with increasing Highway 82 congestion downtown. Officials have praised the latest study because its said to be the only one thats included the city, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.The city awarded a $93,543 contract to PBS&J in early 2008 and said the latest study would narrow possible Highway 82 alternatives down to the best two or three options to go through the National Environmental Policy Act process by this fall, which could take another year before leading to action.But instead, according to city manager Jeff Hecksel, the PBS&J project management team stopped work about mid-way through the process because it wasnt getting the results it thought it was going to get.Jim Hanson said the city, the Colorado Department of Transportation, PBS&J, and others decided to change direction after a public meeting earlier this year. He said it came out after the meeting that much of the public does not necessarily want Highway 82 to be relocated, and now PBS&J is trying to better address other options. There also didnt seem to be any alternatives a majority of the community liked. Hanson is a PBS&J project manager.PBS&J also completed the corridor optimization study for around $186,772 early last year. It identified 22 possibilities for Highway 82 ranging from simply adjusting the timing on traffic lights to building a new route along Lookout Mountain for $600 million or more. One alternative in the study that some residents favor is putting Highway 82 in the railroad right-of-way east of the Roaring Fork River. Others think the idea is ridiculous and wouldnt help anything. PBS&J also completed the previous corridor conditions assessment.After the latest study didnt turn out as expected, PBS&J submitted a revised scope of work to the city in September saying it would finish the necessary steps for $171,074, an amount that could change. The document identifies seven tasks outlined in detail such as: develop draft problem statement, refine evaluation criteria, develop elements, and evaluate elements and package into strategies. One task includes hiring sub-consultants.The document says, The COP process is dynamic in that the problem statement and the specific strategies identified to address the problem statement will impact the level of analysis required to evaluate each strategy. It may be necessary to collect new data to properly evaluate the strategies.I guess I dont see this getting us anywhere, said City Councilor Dave Merritt. Maybe Im getting crochety as Im passing my seven year mark on council with many studies on my bookshelf at home. What Im hearing from citizens is we need to do something, not just continue to study.The City Council plans to discuss the issue again before awarding the revised scope of work to PBS&J. City councilors worried there isnt enough public involvement in PBS&Js new plan.Contact Pete Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org
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