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Couplet options of concern to some Glenwood Springs City Council members

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A range of options for a new Grand Avenue Bridge that would involve two bridges and move some Highway 82 traffic a block either side of Grand through the downtown, are cause for concern to some Glenwood City Council members.

“Speaking for myself, I think it would be a mistake to put state highway traffic on either Cooper or Colorado avenues,” Councilman Ted Edmonds said of the various “couplet” alternatives that would use one or both of those side streets.

Edmonds said it would be premature for the city to take a position opposing any of the options currently under review by state transportation officials.



However, it is time for City Council to at least begin the discussion about the potential impacts of some of those options, he said.

Council is scheduled to have that conversation as part of tonight’s regular meeting.



“What I would like to accomplish is to give those members of council who maybe haven’t had the opportunity or time to study the alternatives to become familiar with what is being considered,” said Edmonds, who asked that the matter be put on the agenda.

He, along with council members Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba, have been regularly attending the local stakeholders meetings that have been hosted by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) as part of the formal bridge planning process.

Leahy, Gamba and others involved in the process have expressed similar concerns about the use of Colorado or Cooper to carry one-way Highway 82 traffic through downtown.

Seven of the 11 alignment alternatives still on the table in CDOT’s ongoing Grand Avenue Bridge environmental assessment would place either northbound or southbound Highway 82 traffic on a two-block stretch of Colorado or Cooper.

Edmonds said it would be unwise for the city to “short circuit” CDOT’s required environmental review process by taking a formal position.

“CDOT is doing a good job with the process and opening it up to as many people as possible,” Edmonds said. “And I’m comfortable that the final solution is going to be the right one for everyone.”

At the same time, it’s important that the city’s leaders understand the implications of the various alternatives before that solution is determined, he said.

The Grand Avenue Bridge project is slated to receive up to $59 million in Colorado Bridge Enterprise Fund money to address functional and structural deficiencies with the existing bridge. Built in 1953, the bridge is considered functionally obsolete primarily because it is too narrow by current design standards.

Options range from refurbishing the existing bridge to replacing it with a new bridge, or bridges, to carry Highway 82 traffic from Sixth Street over Interstate 70, the Colorado River, the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Seventh Street into downtown Glenwood Springs.

A preferred alternative is to be determined by August, followed by a required federal environmental assessment and final bridge design. Construction is not expected to begin until early 2015.

Also on the agenda for City Council tonight is formal consideration of a land-use application by Berthod Motors for an expansion of its auto dealership at 27th Street and South Grand Avenue, where the former Knotty Pine Lodge is now located. The existing Berthod Motors lot farther south on Grand Avenue would remain.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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