City Council to state goals on Grand Avenue Bridge project | PostIndependent.com

City Council to state goals on Grand Avenue Bridge project

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A pending City Council resolution seeks to separate the Grand Avenue Bridge construction project from any future negotiations about a possible Highway 82 bypass through Glenwood Springs.

Council, on a 6-1 vote at its Sept. 1 meeting, directed staff to draft a resolution stating its goals for the project. The resolution will be brought back for formal consideration at a future meeting.

Councilman Todd Leahy, in a draft proposal, asked that the city recognize the Colorado Department of Transportation’s intentions for the bridge as a “stand-alone project, not involving any other transportation issues that the city may want to negotiate.”

“This is something I’m very passionate about,” Leahy said. “It’s important for CDOT to understand where this council is coming from, and for us to be in the forefront of this process.”

CDOT has begun a new effort to redesign, or possibly replace, the Grand Avenue Bridge over the Colorado River, to better accommodate State Highway 82 traffic as it enters or leaves Glenwood Springs.

A local Project Leadership Team has been organized to help guide the process and make sure that what’s built fits in with the city’s goals.

“CDOT is really committed to engaging the city of Glenwood Springs in this process,” former mayor Bruce Christensen, the city’s appointed representative on the leadership team, said at this week’s council meeting.

The Glenwood bridge project has been given priority for funding from the state’s FASTER legislation, which is designated specifically for bridge safety improvements and replacement projects.

Because the funds cannot be used for any other purpose, Christensen said the focus needs to stay on the bridge project itself and not drift into the city’s broader transportation and traffic concerns, or talk of an alternate route.

“This is a very separate process,” he said. “What they are looking for are ideas for a nicer gateway into downtown Glenwood Springs.”

Leahy’s proposal seeks to establish that the city will cooperate with CDOT to rebuild the bridge in its current location. In doing that, the city also desires to:

• Provide a safe, new, modern structure that improves aesthetic enhancements to the downtown.

• Provide a structure that enhances and complements the downtown business community.

• Complement pedestrian access in the downtown.

• Insure the safe passage of traffic during construction, with minimal delays.

• Facilitate a smooth transition from the old bridge to the new.

• Provide positive leadership and direction during the entire reconstruction process.

“This is a general statement of what we would like to see come out of this process,” Leahy said. “I want to make sure this document doesn’t try to design or engineer anything.”

Councilman Dave Sturges voted against drafting the resolution, calling it premature. He said the bridge project itself may be short-sighted if a highway realignment through Glenwood is to ever be given serious consideration.

“One of the risks of this whole process is that special interests are going to dictate to the city how this project gets done,” Sturges said. “The challenge to us is to be open to what the citizens have to say … I think we need to at least investigate some long-term solutions in the context of these short-term decisions.”

The majority of city council members disagreed with Sturges’s position, though.

“I don’t disagree that there are some long-term objectives that need to be pursued,” Councilman Mike Gamba said. “But the FASTER funding is not available for those things. I don’t think we can talk about that in the context of this particular project.”

CDOT, working with the Project Leadership Team, is in the process of hiring a team of consultants to lead the project design.

The process will eventually involve a formal Environmental Assessment in the coming years, from which a preferred alternative will be selected. A final decision is not expected until at least 2014.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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