City takes a bite at bridge work
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The promise of federal funding and more cooperative landowners prompted the Glenwood Springs City Council to continue work to build a new south bridge and roadway.
“For us to stop what we’ve been doing, I think, would be a travesty,” Mayor Don Vanderhoof said.
The south bridge and roadway would run from Airport Road across the Roaring Fork River and east to a new intersection with Highway 82 near Red Canyon.
Third District Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, pledged last week to seek federal funds to help pay for south bridge, Glenwood Springs city manager Mike Copp said.
Also, two landowners who earlier protested a road connecting the bridge with Highway 82 running along their property lines have softened their stance.
Council determined the bridge would relieve congestion at the 27th Street bridge, and serve as an alternate escape route in an emergency. Last summer’s Coal Seam Fire forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the Four Mile Road area onto one outlet road.
“It’s more than just a transportation problem. This summer we found that it’s a safety problem,” Councilman Dan Richardson said.
“It’s irresponsible on our part if we don’t plan for that outlet on the south side of town,” city engineer Larry Thompson added.
The design for the bridge and the road is 30 percent completed, Copp said, and $200,000 of the $500,000 apportioned for the design work has been spent.
“I think we should go ahead and complete the design,” Councilman Don Gillespie said.
Gillespie also suggested renaming the project the “southern route,” so it isn’t confused with the proposed relocation of Highway 82 through the heart of Glenwood Springs.
The federal funds for the bridge and road, McInnis told the city, could come in the form of a TEA-21 – Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century – grant. TEA-21 is a federal transportation program now up for renewal by Congress. Copp said McInnis plans to treat Glenwood Springs’ south bridge project as one of his top priorities for the TEA-21.
“He’s looking for ways to see if he can help,” Mcinnis’ spokesman Blair Jones said Friday. “He’s going to see if this projects fits in.”
TEA-21 was enacted in 1998 as a federal program for highways, highway safety, and transit through 2003. It must be reauthorized to continue beyond this year.
“The congressman said it would be a top priority,” city manager Mike Copp said. “We believe we have a good chance of receiving substantial funding for this project.”
The current plan calls for the bridge to span the Roaring Fork River just south of the city near the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport. A road would then be built along the property line that separates Carter and Louise Jackson’s property to the south and land owned by Holy Cross Energy to the north.
The entire project is estimated to cost $6 million to $10 million.
At council’s Dec. 19 meeting, the Jackson family and John McClenahan of Holy Cross expressed serious concerns about the amount of land the city would need to build the road.
But on Thursday, the Jacksons and McClenahan said they’d be more willing to work with the city and would consider letting the city use parts of their land for a road.
Their stances were moderated after city officials informed them earlier in the week that the amount of land needed to build a road could shrink from a width of 200 feet to 85 feet.
“We would still like to see some other options explored,” said Sandy Jackson.
But if there are no other options, Jackson said she would “feel very comfortable that the city staff will work with us.”
McClenahan said if the city uses less land for the road, it would be easier to win approval from Holy Cross’ board of directors.
“We want to work very closely on the design with the staff, and maybe this could be workable,” he said.
Council approved continuing with design work on the bridge by a vote of 5-2, with councilmen Rick Davis and Dave Merritt casting the dissenting votes.
Davis said he felt there were too many unresolved issues pertaining to the bridge and road, while Merritt expressed concern that the road and bridge could foster more development and would pull the center of the city farther to the south.
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