City agreements key to bridge project moving ahead |

City agreements key to bridge project moving ahead

Christopher Mullen Post Independent Traffic flows across the Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs, Thursday night.
Christopher Mullen |

A series of agreements now being passed back and forth between Grand Avenue Bridge project officials and the city of Glenwood Springs will spell out everything from operation and maintenance responsibilities to terms for the city’s $3 million contribution to the project.

“For the city, the goal is to ensure that the project that has been presented to the public is the one that’s delivered,” Glenwood City Manager Jeff Hecksel said recently as city officials began reviewing the draft agreements.

City Council met in executive session last week, and city and Colorado Department of Transportation project staff got together afterward as part of the contract negotiating process.

Four separate agreements are on the table, including one of more immediate concern related to CDOT’s obligation to make sure the design for the new Highway 82/Grand Avenue Bridge fits with Glenwood’s historical character.

That agreement must be completed before CDOT can issue its final “decision document” in mid-May, which will set the process in motion to finalize costs and move toward actual bridge construction by early 2016, according to Joe Elsen, CDOT Region 3 program engineer.

“When we come out with the decision document it will summarize what our mitigation plan is for certain things related to historic properties … and making sure the bridge fits into the historical character of the town,” Elsen said.

City Council is scheduled to consider the historical mitigation agreement at its next regular meeting May 7.

Other agreements deal with establishing a joint use agreement for the new bridge right of way as it crosses the railroad tracks, Colorado River and Interstate 70, as well as an operation and maintenance contract spelling out who is responsible for what when the new highway and associated pedestrian bridges are built.

Included in a draft operation and maintenance agreement distributed to the city before last week’s meeting were various state and city responsibilities related to the city’s requested elevator access on Seventh Street.

The elevator was preferred over an elongated ramp structure in order to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act for access between the elevated pedestrian bridge and Seventh Street.

While CDOT would build the structures and be responsible for structural maintenance over time, the city is to be responsible for routine maintenance and repairs, snow and ice removal, future elevator replacement, and all costs should a ramp be built in the future, according to the draft agreement.

The proposed agreement also addresses legal liability for any ADA claims, which could fall mostly on the city.

Elsen said separate funding agreements are also needed between CDOT and both the city and Garfield County. Each local government agreed to contribute $3 million spread over three years to help make up a funding shortfall for the project, which is still estimated to cost in the range of $110 million to $115 million.

County commissioners asked that the county’s contribution go toward the pedestrian bridge portion of the larger project.

Likewise, much of the city’s contribution would also go to pay for the elevator tower, two elevators, back-up electric generator, stairs and architectural treatments to the structure. Credit would be given to the city for replacement of the existing public restrooms beneath the highway bridge, according to the draft agreement.

“A lot of what is in there is related to the work that the DDA is doing,” Hecksel said of the streetscape and pedestrian area designs being done by a group of consultants working with the Downtown Development Authority.

Once the Grand Avenue Bridge Environmental Assessment decision document is released, among the next steps will be to complete the bridge designs and finalize the funding package, Elsen said.

“We’re going through a pricing exercise with our contractor right now,” he said. “So we would like to get the rest of these agreements wrapped up in the next month.”

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