Garfield County commissioners, Glenwood Springs City Council joining forces to pick recommended South Bridge option
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The Garfield County Board of Commissioners and the Glenwood Springs City Council came to the agreement that they need to work together to decide which of the four proposed South Bridge options they would recommend for an environmental assessment.
The two entities of elected officials came together in a work session Thursday at the Glenwood Springs City Council Chamber Room to discuss the options before making separate recommendations.
A project working group recommended putting South Bridge over the Roaring Fork River to hit Highway 82 between the Holy Cross Energy facility and the Carter Jackson ranch south of Glenwood Springs. The group neglected to decide whether the route should go under the Glenwood Springs Airport’s runway to keep it open, or if it should go through the airport and close it down.
The citizens advisory group recommended one option that would cross the Roaring Fork River just south of the old and unused Cardiff Bridge, another option that would go through the north part of the airport and under the runway, and a third option that would loop around the south side of the airport before crossing the river.
County Commissioner Tresi Houpt said that it would be in the best interest of all if both City Council and the commissioners could make a collective recommendation, and most elected officials agreed.
“We need to look at this collectively because we are both going to have a hand in it, and a checkbook in it,” said councilman Dave Sturgis.
The proposed South Bridge Project is to provide a critical second route between Highway 82 and the western side of the Roaring Fork River and South Glenwood Springs area to improve emergency evacuation and emergency service access, and local land use access.
But several people voiced concerns that the “emergency” purpose would not be the only use and that increased traffic would significantly impact the surrounding neighborhoods and increase development in the surrounding areas.
Houpt said that it was not practical to say the goal of the South Bridge project is for “emergency access.”
Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen agreed and added that he felt it wasn’t in the best interest of the community to spend an estimated $20 million of the taxpayers’ money for a project that “we may never see completed in our lifetime.”
“This thing is very expensive,” Christensen said. “And we don’t have the money to pay for this.”
Councilwoman Shelley Kaup said that despite added traffic impacts on neighborhoods and the high cost, a decision on how to proceed with the project is vital because the traffic is going to get worse regardless.
“I think it’s time to start making decisions on this,” Kaup said.
Kaup added that future development is inevitable and the traffic issues need to be addressed to start the long process ahead.
The next step in the process, which began in October 2007, will be for both the commissioners and the City Council to recommend a route at their next scheduled board meetings on March 2, and March 5, respectively.
After a decision is made by the City Council and commissioners, the project working group will also make a final recommendation. From there, a group comprising city and county managers, a Colorado Department of Transportation representative and a Federal Highway Administration representative will make a recommendation, that would probably confirm the project working group’s recommendation.
From there the Federal Highway Administration is expected to use the input and pick one of the options that would undergo an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act process, which could take another 18 months.
Contact John Gardner: 384-9114
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