County will kick in $200,000 toward south bridge study
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Garfield County plans to contribute up to $200,000 toward a study of the proposed south bridge project near Glenwood Springs.County commissioners agreed to the idea in principle Monday, although the details will continue to be negotiated with the city.The city also plans to give as much as $200,000 toward the environmental assessment for the south bridge. The study is expected to cost about $2 million, with most of the money coming from federal funding.The project would involve building a road from Airport Road to a new crossing of the Roaring Fork River. It would provide an alternative connection to the south Glenwood/Four Mile Road area, helping reduce traffic congestion in Glenwood Springs.A tentative proposal called for the county to contribute the $200,000 up front, but commissioners said they preferred to pay bills as they come along, up to that amount. Alternatively, commissioners suggested the city and county deposit $200,000 in separate accounts and the money be drawn down equally as costs arise.Glenwood city manager Jeff Hecksel said in an interview Monday that the commissioners’ ideas make sense. They would prevent a repeat of a situation in which the county had fronted funding to the city for transportation improvements in the south Glenwood area but work never went forward and the city eventually had to pay back the money.County Commissioner Larry McCown said he had no problem contributing to the south bridge project, but he thinks the city rather than the county should be the lead agency pursuing it. He said land issues regarding where the new bridge would be located are a “very hot political potato” for the city.The south bridge project could spark debate over whether the municipal airport should be closed to facilitate putting in a new road.Hecksel said he thinks the city already has been leading the effort to build a south bridge, with the Colorado Department of Transportation also being involved.”CDOT and the county are partners with us, which we very much appreciate, but we are sort of trying to guide the process,” he said.Hecksel said he thinks any discussion about the airport’s future is premature until the study shows what available routes exist connecting to a south bridge.Eventually, the city also faces a decision of whether to make a longer-term financial commitment to the airport. The airport runway is expected to need repaving in five to seven years, at a possible cost of $500,000 to $1 million.Land issues aside, county Commissioner Trési Houpt thinks the county should play more of a lead role in transportation issues in the south Glenwood area because of approved and prospective development up Four Mile Road, which is outside city limits but feeds traffic into town. One proposal calls for redeveloping Sunlight Mountain Resort and adding hundreds of housing units there.At Houpt’s urging, commissioners on Monday decided to try to set up a meeting with the city, other public agencies and others who are interested in transportation issues in that area.Hecksel said city and county elected officials have conferred on those matters in the past but he sees value in having such a meeting, and said city-county discussions will continue.”I think that it’s going to be really important for the city council and the board of commissioners to sit down and talk about this stuff. When you stop and consider all the potential up (Four Mile Road), it’s important as well. It’s important for a variety of reasons,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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