City looks to limit trucks on downtown side streets
Glenwood Springs officials are considering possible limits on large commercial truck activity along some downtown side streets and in residential neighborhoods around town.
The move is partly aimed at ongoing safety concerns related to semi trucks going to and from the U.S. Post Office on Ninth Street between Colorado and Pitkin avenues.
However, assuming the Postal Service and its independent trucking contractors aren’t exempt from any restrictions, the compromise may be smaller trucks but more trips.
“I don’t think this will address the noise and traffic concerns around the Post Office,” Mayor Mike Gamba advised during a recent City Council discussion, referring to frequent complaints from residents living near the Post Office.
But it would be a way to address the occasional damage caused to city street signs, light poles, planters and fire hydrants from large trucks that sometimes cut the corners too close, he said.
A regular safety concern has to do with postal delivery trucks, usually driven by contracted independent truckers, attempting to make the wide sweeping turn from southbound Grand Avenue onto Ninth Street.
The maneuver requires that the large trucks veer into the left traffic and turn lanes on Grand to turn right onto Ninth, sometimes cutting off vehicles coming up from behind, and forcing motorists waiting to turn onto Grand to back out of the way.
As a home rule city, Glenwood Springs does have the ability to limit the length and weight of trucks that can travel on certain city streets. Grand Avenue, as a state highway (Colorado 82), would be exempt.
“We did talk to some of the local businesses about the size of trucks they have making deliveries, to see what would be reasonable,” attorney John Hoistad informed council during an Aug. 18 work session.
The city can also designate certain corridors as truck routes, and any length restrictions could be limited to specific neighborhoods, he said.
“It’s up to you what you decide is appropriate,” said Karl Hanlon, city attorney. “Clearly, we’re not going to eliminate deliveries into the (downtown) … and we’re not going to suddenly make businesses stop operating.”
Dave Rupert, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said it would be hard to eliminate the larger mail delivery trucks from coming to the downtown Glenwood facility.
“Our trucks don’t just have a singular destination, there is a whole string of deliveries that they are making,” Rupert said.
Any restrictions on truck sizes would just create another set of problems, he said. And, there’s a question whether the Postal Service, as a quasi-federal entity, and its contractors, would have to comply with any restrictions.
At the same time, Rupert said the Postal Service has to work with the communities that it operates in to provide efficient customer service while not overly impacting the local community.
“We will continue to work with the town council and the needs of the community to have that good balance,” he said. “We have been in that location since the early 1960s, it fits our needs and the needs of the community, and we have no designs on leaving Glenwood Springs.”
One of the things driving the nature and frequency of mail truck deliveries is the huge increase in the parcel side of the business, Rupert added.
“Five years ago we delivered 3 billion packages,” he said. “Last year, that number was 4.5 billion. That’s just how people are shopping these days, and it’s a big part of our business.”
For the city’s part, another issue is the inherent selectiveness of enforcement if semis are banned from certain streets, Police Chief Terry Wilson said during the council discussion.
And, the occasional damage that occurs on street corners often happens at night when it goes unnoticed until the next day, he said.
If any restrictions are imposed, Wilson and others suggested that the city issue special permits for construction projects and other one-time or limited deliveries. Certain types of larger vehicles, such as transit and school buses, would also be exempt.
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.