Grand Avenue access plan up for council discussion |

Grand Avenue access plan up for council discussion

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – City Council takes its first detailed look this evening at an updated draft Highway 82/Grand Avenue access control plan. It is still being refined before it will be presented for adoption.

A 5 p.m. work session for council members to discuss and give input on the plan is scheduled in advance of tonight’s regular Glenwood Springs City Council meeting. The regular session begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Among the recommendations in the draft plan include the possible elimination of some downtown traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.

Potential closure of the 23rd Street intersection at Highway 82 and South Grand Avenue, leaving the 27th Street intersection as the main access to South Grand, is also on the table for consideration.

The 20-year highway access master plan is meant to identify ways to eventually consolidate and redirect access points along the stretch of Highway 82/Grand Avenue from the Interstate 70 Exit 116 through Glenwood Springs.

The planning effort also takes in the area south of town out to the Orrison Distributing turnoff.

The Access Plan does not dictate the immediate removal or addition of access points, transportation planners point out. Rather, it establishes a policy to be implemented over the next 20 years as new development or redevelopment occurs in certain areas.

The Access Control Plan will continue to be refined throughout the fall, and is expected to be presented for formal adoption by the Glenwood Springs City Council, the Garfield County commissioners and the Colorado Department of Transportation by year’s end.

Part of tonight’s council presentation will focus on recent new draft recommendations related to the recently selected “preferred alignment” for a new Grand Avenue Bridge.

That alignment, if ultimately chosen following a pending Environmental Assessment, would take the new bridge from Grand Avenue south of the Colorado River to the intersection of Sixth and Laurel streets on the north end.

“The Access Plan project team is in the process of determining how the access plan and the preferred alternative will integrate for both interim and long-term conditions,” according to a written summary for today’s council meeting.

Among the potential downtown changes could be the elimination of traffic lights and pedestrian crossing points at two intersections in the four-block area between Eighth and 11th streets, according to the draft plan.

Under the current draft proposal, signals would be removed from Eighth and 10th streets.

“If signalized intersections are spaced farther apart, intersection and network delays decrease in the 20-year planning period,” project officials state in their summary to council.

Possible closure of the 23rd Street intersection has been on the table for several years, but the access plan is leaning toward a formal recommendation in that regard. Safety concerns associated with the odd angle of the intersection, along with the Rio Grande Trail crossing, is the main reason for the recommendation, project officials said.

“In general, the business owners on South Grand are opposed to the closure and are concerned about negative impacts to their businesses,” the officials acknowledge. “Members of the general public that have participated in the project recognize the safety concerns and support the closure.”

After the council work session this evening, project officials are planning another public open house in October to present the access recommendations.

Also on the agenda for the regular city council meeting tonight will be reviews for three land-use applications, including a new two-level parking structure at Valley View Hospital, a special-use permit to add six gondola cars to the tramway for the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, and a follow-up variance for the new Chevrolet dealership in West Glenwood.

Council is also slated to discuss newly recommended building code requirements for residential sprinkler systems.

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