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Competing interests duel for old Honda lot

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Kelley Cox Post Independent
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority has set its sights firmly on the former Honda dealership lot at the intersection of 27th Street and Highway 82 for the main downvalley transit hub that would serve its Bus Rapid Transit expansion.Problem is, it’s the same site that’s also being proposed for a new Kum & Go convenience store, resulting in an apparent bidding war. The land is owned by longtime valley construction contractor Wayne Rudd.”We are in the process of negotiating to purchase that site, though nothing has been finalized yet,” Angela Kincade, RFTA’s deputy project manager in charge of property acquisitions, said Thursday.The convenience store project, meanwhile, was the subject of an informal conceptual review before Glenwood Springs City Council in December. A formal application has since been submitted, city planner Gretchen Ricehill confirmed.In fact, the applicants had a deadline of today to provide additional information before the application could be deemed complete, she said. If met, the Kum & Go project could land on the Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission’s agenda as early as March 20.Rudd could not be reached for comment on the status of the competing negotiations from his end. He is a co-signer on the application for the convenience store project, Ricehill said.RFTA’s interest in the site has been the subject of closed-door executive sessions of late, both for the RFTA board of directors last week and Glenwood Springs City Council at its regular meeting Thursday evening.Kincade said condemnation of the property by RFTA, which is a public agency, would be a last resort.”We don’t anticipate having to do that,” she said. “We have been able to come to some level of agreement so far.”

RFTA hopes to use the 1.5-acre former car lot as the primary downvalley transit station to serve its $46.2 million Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) expansion project.The BRT will feature direct bus service at regular intervals along Highway 82 between Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Construction of bus stations and other facilities is slated to begin this spring, with completion scheduled for August of 2013.”This will be the Ruby Park of Glenwood Springs,” Kincade said, making a comparison to the main upvalley bus center at Ruby Park in downtown Aspen.”We need a location that has easy access on and off of Highway 82, so we can head straight up valley from that point,” she explained. The facility would serve BRT vehicles and the regular RFTA buses that will still loop through Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, as well as the city’s Ride Glenwood buses, Kincade said.It is to include a station building, a double-sided platform with space for up to 10 buses at a time, lighting, and commuter parking at the back of the lot below Blake Avenue.”We would be doing some major street improvements to 27th Street,” Kincade said.The plans would go through the city’s formal land-use review process, she said. RFTA initially looked at placing the main BRT station in West Glenwood. But, with the time buses would lose traveling through town, it was determined the station needed to be on the south end of Glenwood in order to remain on schedule, she said.”Our goal is still to try to get people out of their cars and onto transportation,” Kincade said. That would be accomplished by encouraging commuters coming from points west to use RFTA’s park-and-ride lot on Wulfsohn Road, near Glenwood Meadows, and use the city bus to get to the BRT station, she said.”We do hope to encourage as many people as possible to park on the West Glenwood side,” she said.The BRT project is also moving forward at the same time as the city of Glenwood Springs is preparing a study for a multi-modal transit facility to be located somewhere else in town. It would serve not only RFTA and Ride Glenwood, but potentially the Greyhound bus line and Amtrak.Among the potential sites for that facility is the former Subaru dealership, located just north of the old Honda site.”It’s still very early in our process,” Glenwood Springs Transportation Director Rosa Silver said. “But it would be great if we could have the two facilities close together.”The city hosted a public open house last week to have citizens weigh in on the various options for locating the multi-modal facility.Ranking as the top site was actually the RFTA-owned park-and-ride property on Wulfsohn Road, followed closely by the existing Amtrak station downtown, Silver said.A preferred location is to be identified by the transit center working group between now and May. Another open house is planned for May or June to present the recommendations.jstroud@postindependent.com


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