Glenwood Springs airport runway to remain in current configuration
City council slated to discuss flight path obstructions after May special election
The current Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport runway configuration will not be changed to accommodate the city’s South Bridge Project, following a city council vote Thursday to continue plans for a tunnel under the airport.
During the council’s regular session, council members reviewed about 120 pages of resident feedback received during a February listening session and a weeks-long online survey.
While the listening session presented several options for changing the airport’s runway configuration to accommodate the South Bridge Project, which could connect south Glenwood Springs to Colorado Highway 82, City Attorney Karl Hanlon advised the council to only make decisions on whether to move the runway north or dig a tunnel underneath.
A question on the upcoming May 3 special election ballot could make the airport the city’s first asset protected by the city charter, requiring a public vote for significant changes to airport operations or the runway configuration.
“I think this discussion is very premature,” Council Member Tony Hershey said. “I feel this discussion is an attempt to (change the runway configuration) before the election.”
Hershey made a motion, with a second from Council Member Paula Stepp, to continue the airport discussion until after the election. The motion failed 2-5, with Mayor Jonathan Godes, Mayor Pro Tem Charlie Willman and council members Shelley Kaup, Ingrid Wussow and Marco Dehm voting against.
If the charter changes are approved by the voters, Hanlon explained the new city charter would nullify the council’s Thursday vote on options other than extending the runway north or digging a tunnel underneath.
Some discussion about accepting public comment preempted the airport agenda item, and council voted 6-1, with Stepp voting against, to accept new public comment from people who did not attend the listening session or submit online feedback.
No new public comments were submitted during the airport discussion.
Kaup said the council should stick to a decision they made in March 2021 to design the South Bridge Project with a tunnel.
In agreement with Kaup, Wussow said the city couldn’t wait any longer to move forward with South Bridge.
“The community vetted multiple scenarios — approximately 30 — and (a tunnel) was the direction the community gave us,” Wussow said. “This is the direction we’re going. This is the direction we gave engineering a year ago, and we’re in a position to stay the course, get it shovel ready and get it in the right time for federal funding.”
Kaup moved, with a second from Dehm, to reaffirm the council’s 2021 decision to build a tunnel under the runway, connecting South Midland Avenue to Highway 82 via Airport Road.
City Council approved Kaup’s motion 5-2, with Godes and Willman voting against.
Previously, city staff informed council a tunnel under the runway might need to be insulated, inflating the cost of the tunnel.
City Engineer Terri Partch, however, told council Thursday that city staff consulted with the city’s insurance company and determined insulation was not a liability requirement.
Partch said, after much consideration, staff decided against advising the council to insulate the tunnel.
Godes moved, with a second from Stepp, to remove plans for tunnel insulation. With Hershey abstaining, the motion was passed by all other council members.
Agenda items regarding flight path obstructions, identified by an airspace study conducted in 2021, were continued to a meeting after the May election.
Some members of the public expressed a desire to publicly comment on the airspace study, but because the items were continued, council did not open the floor for comments on agenda items that could appear on a future agenda.
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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