Glenwood Springs’ South Bridge project set to become ‘shovel ready’
City would still need to bridge project's multi-million dollar funding gap before any shovels hit the dirt
Grand Avenue, 27th Street — Glenwood Springs has endured its fair share of bridge construction over the last few years.
The Grand Avenue Bridge Project was the largest infrastructure undertaking on the Western Slope in 25 years, and the 27th Street Bridge Project replaced one of the worst-rated bridges off the highway system in the state.
Additionally, since the 2002 Coal Seam Fire, which burned 29 homes, more than 12,000 acres of land and forced the evacuation of thousands of residents, the city has eyed providing a second connection from the west side of the Roaring Fork River to state Highway 82 in south Glenwood Springs.
South Bridge would do exactly that.
Recently, Glenwood Springs City Council, in a unanimous vote, approved making South Bridge a “shovel ready” project.
At its Feb. 20 meeting, councilors approved a $3.4 million contract extension with Jacobs Engineering to complete the project’s final design, right-of-way process and the last steps of its environmental assessment.
The contract was financed with the remaining $3.5 million in federal funds that were earmarked for South Bridge in 2005.
“All the stars are kind of aligning,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said. “For the first time in nearly 20 years we’ll have something that we can then go to CDOT, to the county commissioners, to the state, to the [federal government] and say, ‘help us.’”
Before any shovels hit the dirt, the South Bridge Project would need a lot of help; largely in the form of funding.
According to a city council staff report, South Bridge’s “current total project estimate is approximately $47 million.”
“We’ll keep developing our potential funding sources,” Terri Partch, Glenwood Springs city engineer, said. “Right now we have about $20 million set aside in city bond funds and $4 million from RFTA. So, we have about $24 million allocated so far.”
The preferred South Bridge route would begin at Midland Avenue and Four Mile Road, follow Airport Road’s alignment and then tunnel beneath the municipal airport’s runway. After exiting the tunnel, South Bridge would eventually cross the Roaring Fork River and land between the Jackson Ranch and the Holy Cross facility before connecting to state Highway 82.
Water and, likely, gas utility lines would also run beneath South Bridge, Partch explained.
According to a draft schedule, South Bridge’s final design and right-of-way acquisition process should see completion between February and May of 2021.
“It’s not just for convenience of up-valley traffic. It’s not just for wildfire emergency,” Godes said. “It’s also to accommodate future growth.”
According to Partch, the city hopes to break ground on the project by 2022. Additionally, Partch said the South Bridge Project would likely be constructed in phases as opposed to all at once.
However, the city would need to bridge the project’s multi-million dollar funding gap before any shovels actually hit the dirt.
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Glenwood Springs City Council member Shelley Kaup says she will seek reelection to another four-year term to one of council’s two at-large seats in the April 3 election.