GAPP option: Downtown done in 3 weeks
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A smaller-scale alternative to the Grand Avenue Paving Project would take just three weeks instead of six months, a state transportation official said Wednesday.
Colorado Department of Transportation resident engineer Karen Rowe said if the stretch of Highway 82 between the Grand Avenue Bridge and 11th Street were given a four-inch “mill and fill” rather than replacing the road down to the dirt with full-depth concrete surface, the downtown portion of the project would take around three weeks.
The alternative was discussed at a Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority Board meeting held Wednesday at City Hall.
A public hearing on the paving project will be held during the City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall. But CDOT is not bound to follow a City Council decision, since Grand Avenue is a state highway.
The downtown portion of the project is tentatively scheduled to run from September to December 2004 and March through May 2005. The entire project from the bridge to 23rd Street is slated to run from July 2004 to May 2005.
Rowe told the board that as of Wednesday, CDOT was still planning to go with the larger project because the concrete road surface would last significantly longer and require less maintenance. She said the final decision is up to her boss, CDOT program engineer Joe Elsen.
She also said the mill and fill would require much more maintenance.
“With the four-inch mill and fill, they’d have to come every eight years,” Rowe explained.
Finally, Rowe said an asphalt mill and fill would have to be done in the summer months during the city’s high season, but she didn’t elaborate on why.
A better alternative?
Some business owners who attended the meeting and one city councilman said a three-week project every eight years seems like a better alternative to a potentially bankrupting six-month project.
“That might be a lot more acceptable to some of these businesses that are holding on by their fingernails,” City Councilman Joe O’Donnell said.
Cheryl Guay, owner of Jewels and Gems in the 900 block of Grand Avenue, said she’s afraid six months of road construction could put her, and others, out of business.
“This is more than Highway 82, it’s Grand Avenue,” she said. “If we could have the mill and fill that would only take three weeks, why not?”
Another idea pitched at the meeting was temporarily changing the law that bans truck traffic on Midland Avenue and possibly making that road the main truck route.
If Midland were to become the main truck route, the ordinance outlawing trucks from using that road would have to be temporarily overturned.
DDA Board’s opinion
When GAPP was first pitched, DDA Board chairman David Hauter said the DDA Board was in favor of the project because of the promise of aesthetic improvements such as a spruced-up wing street, bus pullouts along Grand Avenue and decorative crosswalks on all intersections with traffic lights.
But since then, the board has been told that the bus pullouts would be too expensive for the city and since no decision has yet been made on whether to close wing street, improvements there would also have to wait.
Also, the original design for the crosswalks has been modified to a standard CDOT design, Hauter said.
Hauter said these changes, along with concern for downtown businesses, has led the board to officially oppose the project.
“Is the pain worth the gain?” he asked.
Despite the board’s official stance, Hauter said the DDA would do all it could if the project winds up being done.
“You’re asking us if we’re going to cooperate? Of course we’re going to cooperate,” he said.
Outside City Hall after the meeting, Guay said GAPP could cause downtown to become a ghost town.
“We are fragile-fragile,” she said. “We are like the tundra; if you step on us too hard, we’re gone forever.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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