CDOT starts work at Glenwood Shell site
Read an earlier story about Greg Beightel and listen to his feelings about the station.
A notable step has taken place in the project to replace Glenwood Springs’ Grand Avenue bridge.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has struck a “possession and use agreement” with the owners of the Glenwood Shell service station at the foot of Exit 116 from Interstate 70. The station closed March 13.
It’s a key piece of property for the planned configuration of streets leading from westbound Interstate 70 to the new bridge, which is to sweep into downtown across the Colorado River from the northwest, rather than directly from the north as the current bridge is configured.
“Our property is the place that’s going to make this work,” said Greg Beightel, who with his wife, Teresa, has owned the Shell station for nearly 34 years.
While CDOT has taken soil samples and will test the ground water at the site, and the Beightels must be out of the business by April 10, the sale is not complete.
Greg Beightel said he has gotten an offer from the state and both sides have done appraisals, but they are far apart.
“I would argue that there is no piece of Interstate property that is more valuable than mine and Teresa’s between Denver and Horizon Drive in Grand Junction,” he said. CDOT’s offer, he said, is inadequate.
He and his wife, whose future finances are tied to the station sale just as their past has been tied to its operation, have considered buying a business property to rent. He’s been looking, but, for example, a smaller parcel with much less traffic in Gypsum, would cost just about what the couple is now being offered, Beightel said.
“I think that things are going to work out good with the government,” he said. CDOT representatives “want to see us dealt with in a fair way. It has to be done according to Hoyle.”
He noted that he has a daughter just starting college and one still in high school. “We want to be justly compensated,” he said. The station “is 100 percent our retirement plan.”
The station is one of a few properties CDOT is moving to acquire in advance of construction, which could begin as soon as late this year.
Kathy Freeman, CDOT’s Region 3 right of way manager, said the agency is working on early acquisition of land west of the intersection where the Shell stands and of some property now used as parking for the Hot Springs Pool. The gas station site needs substantial work, removing the underground storage tanks and testing soil for contamination. “There have been noted releases at that intersection,” Freeman said.
The overall project is due in May for a “decision document” from the Federal Highway Administration on whether it is clear to proceed or more environmental study is needed.
Program engineer Joe Elsen said the early acquisitions would be of properties that will be needed even if minor changes are made in the plan.
The CDOT officials couldn’t comment on sale negotiations with the Beightels.
Reaching this point in the process, particularly the act of finally closing the station, has been emotional for the owners.
“I never saw it ending,” Greg Beightel said. “I saw it as a farm” that is lifelong work.
Then, as plans narrowed for the new bridge, “we were put on notice that we were in their rifle sights,” he said.
Still, he said last week, “I was never convinced this was truly going to happen until I saw something substantial, which was this agreement.”
At times, he’s been deeply frustrated with CDOT — “last summer, we felt like we were on a yo-yo.” At one point, he heard the project was on hold, then got a call from Elsen in September that it would move ahead, a conversation Elsen confirmed.
The station has been Beightel’s life.
“The identity of this station has been part of my personal identity for the last 33 years,” he said in a Post Independent story in February. “The station actually becomes part of your personality and part of who you are.”
He closed the Glenwood Shell at 3 p.m. March 13. “At that moment, I was completely overwhelmed,” he said.
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