Glenwood Springs City Council discusses lower speed limits for Highway 82, increased railway traffic carrying crude oil

Airport’s new fuel tanks could cost up to $450,000

Glenwood Springs city staff could soon start working with the Colorado Department of Transportation on ways to reduce Colorado Highway 82 traffic speeds south of the city.

During the Glenwood Springs City Council’s regular session Thursday, former public works director Robin Millyard presented council with a petition for a noise wall between his neighborhood at the south end of Glenwood Springs and Highway 82.

“Highway 82 is right out of our backyard,” Millyard said. “The noise level from the highway all the time; trucks are using Jake brakes (engine brakes), and people are speeding like crazy.”

The presentation sparked a long conversation among council members about how to reduce sound pollution along the highway and increase safety as development reaches farther south; however, the general consensus among council members was that funding a sound barrier was not likely feasible.

Council Member Tony Hershey suggested Millyard spend less time at his home during the noisy periods of the day.

“It’s a CDOT issue, not my issue,” Hershey said. “I’m sorry Robin, but I wouldn’t pay 30 cents to put up a sound wall.”

As the conversation steered toward traffic speeds on Highway 82 between 27th Street and the Rosebud Cemetery, Council Member Steve Davis said he was interested in working with CDOT on a solution.

“That Walmart intersection is terrifying,” Davis said. “Getting into Ken Murphy’s (Glenwood Adventure Co.) is nerve wracking.”

Davis said he didn’t believe CDOT would foot the bill for a sound wall, but they might be willing to consider lowering the speed limit to 35 mph.

Public Works Director Matt Langhorst said northbound Highway 82 traffic was restricted to 35 mph near the Rosebud Cemetery, because of the number of accesses on the northbound route. But, southbound Highway 82 traffic was permitted to drive at 45 mph, in part to relieve congestion in town, he explained.

City staff could request that both northbound and southbound lanes be limited to the same lower speed of 35 mph, but ultimately the decision resides with CDOT, Langhorst said.

Council members voted 6-1, with Hershey voting against, to direct staff to work with CDOT on possible traffic calming and speed reducing solutions for the area.

Utah rail project worries

In other business, the council reviewed a presentation on the potential for increased railway traffic, carrying large amounts of waxy crude oil, through the Colorado River Valley.

Deeda Seed, a Center for Biological Diversity spokesperson, informed council members the Uinta Basin Railway project could move 350,000 barrels of waxy crude oil daily through Glenwood Springs, by way of 10 trains — each approximately 2 miles long.

Waxy crude oil is a challenge to transport, because of its volatility and the need to keep it heated, Seed said. Furthermore, the substance requires extra steps to clean up if spilled, which she said could create a disastrous situation for the area’s waterways.

The Uinta Basin Railway is about 85 miles long and is slated to connect oil-hauling trains to the Union Pacific Mainline, which runs through Glenwood Springs.

“I think this is something we should be very concerned about,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said. “We’re a rail town, and I’m not begrudging rail traffic, but 10 2-mile trains a day is very significant.”

Council members Shelley Kaup and Paula Stepp echoed Godes’ concerns, and Council Member Ingrid Wussow made a motion for the council to draft a letter to Colorado legislators decrying the potential impacts of the railway project on Glenwood Springs.

Kaup seconded the motion, which passed 6-1, with Hershey voting against.

City Attorney Karl Hanlon said the railway project was currently mired in governmental processes, granting time for the city to investigate additional methods rallying political support against moving large amounts of waxy crude oil through the city.

Airport fuel tank update

A new fuel tank system could be in the works for Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport. As part of the consent agenda, the council unanimously approved an award of about $370,000 to Mascott Equipment Co. for the replacement of the airport’s 100 Low Lead and Jet A fuel tanks. An Oregon-based company, Mascott was the lowest bidder of five.

By approving the agenda item, the council authorized the Capital Projects Fund loan of up to $225,000 to the Airport Enterprise Fund to pay for fuel tank replacement. With additional costs factored in, the total estimate for both tanks is $450,000, city documents state. CDOT Aeronautical committed to funding $225,000 of the replacement through a grant.

The new fuel systems could be operational by spring, city documents state.

Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at

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