Garfield County commissioner supports Grand Avenue Bridge Alternative 3
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – At least one Garfield County commissioner says he supports a Highway 82 Grand Avenue Bridge replacement option that would realign the new bridge with the intersection at Sixth and Laurel.
“Speaking for myself, I think Alternative 3 is a much better alternative, because of the potential for the redevelopment of Sixth Street,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said during a Tuesday presentation by bridge project officials working with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
“It’s the one that I believe provides the most benefit to the community, and it takes out that 90-degree turn [at Sixth and Pine],” Jankovsky said.
Alternative 3 is one of two alignment options still being studied by CDOT’s project team as it nears a decision on a preferred alternative later this month.
Both Alternatives 1 and 3, which were narrowed down from 12 original bridge alternatives earlier this year, would involve a new bridge taking off from Grand Avenue south of the Colorado River in downtown Glenwood Springs.
Alternative 1 would maintain the bridge on the existing alignment with Sixth and Pine on the north end, keeping Highway 82 traffic on the two-block stretch of Sixth until it reaches Laurel and the interchange with Interstate 70.
Alternative 3 would involve a new bridge curving west to a reconfigured intersection at Sixth and Laurel, providing a more direct route to I-70 for through traffic.
Depending on which of three intersection options is chosen, Alternative 3 would require CDOT to acquire all or part of the Glenwood Shell station property, and the adjacent Glenwood Canyon Activities site (former Dairy Kreme).
Jankovsky said the benefits of potentially redeveloping the Sixth Street business district into local extension of the downtown area outweigh the benefits to keeping the bridge on the existing alignment.
“I look at that as being the more efficient way to manage traffic,” Jankovsky said. “It provides better access, and it increases the size of the downtown area.
“This is something that’s going to be here for 100 years, and Alternative 1 just keeps the same old traffic patterns,” he said. “Alternative 3 gives us an opportunity to change that pattern.”
Commissioners John Martin and Mike Samson reserved comment at the Tuesday work session meeting. But Jankovsky suggested that the Board of County Commissioners consider formally weighing in on its preference before CDOT’s next planned open house on Aug. 22.
The open house is scheduled for 5-7:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. CDOT program engineer Joe Elsen said he’s not sure if a preferred alternative will be announced at that time.
The project team is also planning to give another update to Glenwood Springs City Council on Aug. 16, Elsen said.
City Councilman Todd Leahy also recently suggested that council may want to formally offer its thoughts before a preferred alternative is determined.
One local citizen who has been active in the Grand Avenue Bridge project stakeholder meetings, David Hauter, said he believes the broader community also favors Alternative 3.
“It makes the most sense of the two alternatives still being considered,” Hauter said in a recent interview with the Post Independent. “Based on the people I’ve talked to, and most of the comments from the decision-makers on the committees, I just think that’s where the momentum is as well.”
Hauter said he, too, believes the chance to redevelop Sixth Street into a pedestrian-centered extension of the downtown business district is too good to pass up.
“I think it would be a huge benefit to Glenwood Springs going forward,” Hauter said. “It supports retail businesses, and creates a better opportunity for new retail businesses.”
Some existing Sixth Street business owners have expressed their support for Alternative 1, and maintain that the loss of direct Highway 82 traffic would negatively impact their businesses.
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