Final phase of South Bridge EA discussed |

Final phase of South Bridge EA discussed

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A $1.6 million study to determine a route and do engineering for the so-called South Bridge project is nearly complete.

City of Glenwood Springs and Garfield County officials are set to meet today to discuss the final step in completing the environmental assessment.

The estimated $30.6 million project calls for a southern extension of Airport Road to a new bridge across the Roaring Fork River, and a connection to State Highway 82 just south of the Red Canyon area.

An environmental assessment is required because the project is making use of $5.2 million in federal funding that was approved by Congress in 2005.

That study is nearly done, but requires approval from the city and county for their share of the remaining $300,000 needed to finish the work, said Dave Betley, assistant director of public works for the city of Glenwood Springs.

Betley is scheduled to meet with the Garfield County commissioners during their regular meeting this morning, seeking the go-ahead for the final $25,774 in county funds to complete the work.

To date, a little more than $1.3 million has been spent to determine a preferred route and do preliminary engineering for the bridge and the road, including a roundabout at Midland Avenue and Four Mile Road.

The federal funding effort was led by former Congressman Scott McInnis in the aftermath of the 2002 Coal Seam Fire. The main purpose was to provide an emergency evacuation route for the Four Mile and South Glenwood area.

The fire started in South Canyon and burned through the western end of Glenwood Springs, destroying several homes and other structures. It resulted in an evacuation order for residents of the Three Mile and Four Mile areas southwest of town, although the fire never did reach those areas.

A new southern connection to Highway 82 is also viewed by some as a potential traffic relief valve for the city at 27th Street, which now serves as the main access to the highway for those headed south toward Aspen.

Following three years of public meetings and studies, city and county leaders in early 2011 chose a preferred route.

In addition to federal money, the study has included funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the city and the county.

Betley said the county’s share will end up being about $85,000 less than the $200,000 it originally committed.

The county and the city will each end up spending about $115,000 on the environmental assessment, which is due to be completed in August.

The study was originally to have been completed last year, Betley said, but was delayed due to new federal criteria to analyze noise impacts on the Rio Grande Trail.

As for actual construction on the South Bridge project, a funding source for the required 20 percent local share has not been determined.

Engineers working on the project, in mid-2011, proposed breaking the project up into seven phases spread out over several years, starting with the Midland-Four Mile roundabout.

A breakdown of individual project costs at that time ranged from $1.5 million to build the roundabout to $14 million for the bridge.

Once the EA is complete, the project will still have more than $4.1 million in federal funds available from the Congressional earmark for right-of-way acquisition, final engineering and project construction.

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