County looking for info on South Bridge funding source
GSPI News Editor
Garfield County commissioners are looking for more information about the source of possible federal funding for a new bridge over the Roaring Fork River south of Glenwood.
County Commissioner John Martin said he hopes to learn within a week whether $6.5 million in bridge funding U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Grand Junction, is trying to secure would result in less money for other area transportation projects.
“We’ll find out what pot the money is coming out of,” Martin said at the commissioners’ meeting Monday.
“And then we can talk about what the impact of that is,” said fellow County Commissioner Tresi Houpt.
Pitkin County commissioners fear they would lose funding for the Maroon Creek bridge replacement if McInnis’ efforts are successful.
It’s also possible that more money for the Glenwood bridge could mean less money for work planned for Highway 24 between Leadville and Tennessee Pass.
However, city of Glenwood Springs officials say they have received reassurances from McInnis that his efforts would not take away from funding for other local projects.
Three former Glenwood mayors spoke before Glenwood’s City Council Thursday, criticizing a Glenwood Springs Post Independent editorial that said it would be unfair for a project deemed a high priority in the state highway funding planning process to suffer so the Glenwood bridge could be funded.
Council members joined the ex-mayors in taking issue with the editorial, and reaffirmed their support for McInnis’ efforts to obtain the bridge funding.
Houpt, while calling herself a strong advocate for the South Bridge project, expressed concern Monday over possible impacts on funding for other projects if McInnis obtains money for the bridge.
“It’s a needed project, but if you look at the priorities regionally there are a lot of projects that have been waiting a long time that are necessary too,” she said.
County manager Ed Green also noted that the city has yet to resolve the future of its airport. If it keeps the airport open, that could add at least $1 million in cost to the bridge project, he said.
If the road to the bridge can’t cross city-owned airport land, easements would have to be bought from other landowners. Green said safety zone requirements at the airport also could force a tunnel to be built along part of the road.
McInnis, a Glenwood native, said he is seeking funding for the bridge because of the city’s need for another evacuation route for residents living in south Glenwood and the Four Mile Road area. Traffic backed up on the 27th Street bridge when residents were fleeing during the Coal Seam Fire in 2002.
City and county officials also say the new bridge could reduce day-to-day traffic congestion in the area.
Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516
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