Council OKs traffic corridor plan |

Council OKs traffic corridor plan

John StroudPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – City Council on Thursday unanimously agreed to adopt a plan identifying a range of strategies to deal with traffic congestion on Grand Avenue/State Highway 82, both now and for the next 25 years.The so-called Corridor Optimization Plan was the final step in a three-part planning process initiated by the city five years ago. It will now be presented to the Colorado Transportation Commission for consideration to be entered into the formal funding and environmental review process.”This gives us the tools to move forward and plan as we need to,” said City Council member Shelley Kaup, who is also a long-time member of the city Transportation Commission.”I’m glad to see it finally come to this point,” she said.Jim Hanson of PBS&J, a Denver-based consulting firm that developed the plan, emphasized that it’s a technical planning document only, and no alignment options for future relocation of Highway 82 or a possible local bypass have been identified.However, those are two of the more intensive strategies included in the plan. In all, the plan identifies 10 possible strategies, ranging from “no action,” with some continued basic roadway improvements, to a full-blown realignment of Highway 82 or a secondary city bypass.Most of the strategies would also include improvements to public transit, part of which are already envisioned in the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Bus Rapid Transit expansion plan, and incentives to use non-motorized modes of transportation.While a number of “stakeholders” helped develop the plan, including officials from Garfield County, RFTA, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission, the planning process did not involve direct public input, Hanson said.That would come with any of the more extensive options requiring federal funding, and thus a formal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, he explained.”This has been an acrimonious debate that’s lasted pretty much my entire lifetime,” City Councilman Stephen Bershenyi observed. “The nightmare scenario would be six lanes down the middle of town.”That possibility, if left to state transportation officials to decide as traffic congestion worsens, has served as the primary motivation for the city to get involved to come up with some options, he said.City Engineer Mike McDill, who has been working with consultants on the plan, said it provides a good guidance document for the city to deal on an incremental basis with both current and projected traffic through the city.”This report is a tool box of possible strategies along with a technical appraisal of how those strategies might affect travel through Glenwood Springs and the affects of that traffic on our community,” McDill wrote in his staff report introducing the corridor plan. “It does not recommend any one strategy, nor does it propose to list all possible strategies or elements. It is possible, as new technologies emerge, that other elements and strategies might surface.For the near term, he said the city can proceed with some of the strategies that have the least impact, while preserving the opportunity to implement more comprehensive strategies in the future.Hanson said it will likely be another two months before the Glenwood Springs corridor plan makes the state Transportation Commission’s agenda for consideration. Councilman Dave Sturges suggested that the city send some representatives to that meeting to encourage the state to adopt the

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