Commute times keep stretching for Glenwood Springs, Rifle residents
Commuting for work is common anywhere, but for people in Garfield County, those workday trips seem to be getting longer.
For Glenwood Springs residents alone, the average commute time has increased by 6 minutes from 2010 to 2020, according to U.S. Census data. The percentage of workers with a commute of 19 minutes or less dropped during the same period from 59.8% to 50.4%. Workers commuting 45 minutes or more nearly doubled from 16.2% in 2010 to 28.3% in 2020.
|Glenwood Springs commute times||2020||2010|
|Workers 16 years and over||5,764||5,829|
|Less than 10 minutes||21.5%||26.3%|
|10 to 14 minutes||17.1%||20.1%|
|15 to 19 minutes||11.8%||13.4%|
|20 to 24 minutes||4.6%||4.2%|
|25 to 29 minutes||3.9%||1.8%|
|30 to 34 minutes||10%||8.9%|
|35 to 44 minutes||2.8%||9%|
|45 to 59 minutes||9.3%||7.6%|
|60 or more minutes||19%||8.6%|
|Mean travel time to work (minutes)||27.9||21.9|
“It feels like that disconnect between long commutes and your families is really impacting everybody,” Ryan Gordan, senior engineer at SGM and Glenwood Springs native running for Garfield County commissioner, said at an affordable housing roundtable discussion.
Gordon said his engineering firm struggles to find employees who want to move here since many of them will have to work in Glenwood and live in Rifle.
For Rifle residents, the average commute time increased by 7.4 minutes from 2010 to 2020, according to U.S. Census data. The percentage of workers with a commute of 19 minutes or less dropped during the same period from 60.2% to 40.1%. Workers commuting 45 minutes or more increased from 20.7% in 2010 to 28.3% in 2020.
|Rifle commute times||2020||2010|
|Workers 16 years and over||4,809||4,497|
|Less than 10 minutes||24.5%||32.7%|
|10 to 14 minutes||11.5%||20.5%|
|15 to 19 minutes||4.1%||7%|
|20 to 24 minutes||8.3%||3.7%|
|25 to 29 minutes||3.9%||1.6%|
|30 to 34 minutes||9.6%||11.1%|
|35 to 44 minutes||9.9%||2.8%|
|45 to 59 minutes||12.2%||8.7%|
|60 or more minutes||16.1%||12%|
|Mean travel time to work (minutes)||30.8||23.4|
Construction workers can face even greater difficulties, he said, since many live in Parachute and have to commute to Aspen regularly, since that’s where most of the work is.
Others face the same dilemma: to live and work in Glenwood Springs and pay more, or pay less to live in New Castle, Rifle, Silt or Parachute, but spend more time traveling to and from work.
Patti “Rock Star” Neuroth, the owner of High Country Gems and Minerals, said she had to raise her pay to accommodate either the average employee commute or the expensive rent costs in Glenwood.
One of her employees, Lina Cagle, works full-time at the shop and lives in Rifle. She said that she doesn’t always mind the commute, but it can be nerve-wracking in the winter and is costly with the price of gas now.
“Every week to two weeks I pay $60 to $80 to fill a Subaru Outback from empty to full,” Cagle said.
Trinity Azucena Stebleton is the Latino outreach director for Garfield County Democrats, and she said she has been commuting from Silt to Glenwood Springs for years.
“I got stuck in the canyon for two hours when pregnant,” she said. “It’s dangerous and time-consuming for people to be constantly commuting through the canyon.”
From 2009 to 2019 the number of people living in Glenwood Springs that are also employed in Glenwood has hardly grown, but the number of people employed in Glenwood, but living outside of the city has increased by more than 1,500 people, according to data by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“This is a regional issue,” Gordon said. “Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle counties need to work on this together. We all need to sit at the table and come together.”
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