Glenwood Springs City Council requests more time before deciding South Bridge fate

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – City Council postponed a decision regarding the future of the South Bridge environmental assessment until early January.

Most council members agreed that the best option is postponing the decision on how exactly to move forward with the project, after both City Council and the Board of County Commissioners voted not to move forward with the assessment in early November.

Council was expected to choose one of six possible options, presented to them by Jacobs Engineering consultant Craig Gaskill at a work session on Dec. 17, at the council meeting later that night. However, council instead voted 6-1 in favor of postponing a decision to adequately assess the available options.

Mayor Bruce Christensen requested the item be postponed to the Jan. 7 meeting to give council time for discussion regarding legal issues that need to be addressed. The main issue on which council wanted clarification refers to the $5.2 million in Federal Highway Administration funds earmarked for the project; the city might be responsible for repaying the nearly $700,000 that has already been spent if no assessment is completed.

“My concern is that it’s possible that the city would have to potentially pay back those funds that have been expended from the earmark if we didn’t complete the project to some step,” Christensen said. If the city would be required to repay the expended funds is “completely unknown” at this point, Christensen said.

Christensen’s other concerns were if the city continues with the assessment, at what point could the city stop work and not be required to repay the funds already spent.

“At some point before we make a decision, I’d like to have the consultants advise us on the stopping point where we would assume no liability on the federal funds, which we don’t have at this point,” Christensen said.

Christensen also wanted clarification on if the FHWA could still require the city to repay the expended funds on work that is completed, if the bridge is never built. He also wanted a determination of exactly how the estimated $30 million project would be paid for.

Councilwoman Shelley Kaup was the lone vote against postponing the decision, saying that these issues are not new.

“I would just like to say that I’m personally ready to move forward on it,” Kaup said at the Dec. 17 council meeting. “Because some of the legal issues that have come up existed prior to not passing the motion to move forward with the [EA] in November.”

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