Garfield County may be asked to help with bridge funding
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — If the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement is to come with some of the extra bells and whistles that aren’t included in the $60 million Colorado Bridge Enterprise budget for the new bridge and related amenities, local governments may need to reach into their pockets.
From safety improvements, such as lengthening the eastbound Interstate 70 on-ramp at Exit 116, to aesthetic features including landscaping and some of the more ornate design elements, certain costs aren’t covered under the special fund that’s paying for the bridge replacement, project officials told Garfield County commissioners on Monday.
“We do need to begin to identify outside funding sources to contribute … and show that there is local and regional participation in the design of this project,” said Matt Cirulli of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Bridge Enterprise program.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re here today, is to begin exploring opportunities for those extra funding sources,” he advised commissioners.
In addition to the county and the city of Glenwood Springs, help could also be sought from entities in neighboring Pitkin and Eagle counties, which also heavily rely on State Highway 82.
“We don’t have a specific dollar amount for what that would be, but it is worth convening a meeting to start having that conversation,” said Joe Elsen, CDOT’s regional program engineer assigned to the Grand Avenue Bridge project.
“We are going in front of the Bridge Enterprise board in August, and we would like to be able to tell them a good story about local support for this project,” Elsen said.
Project officials are pushing to complete the draft environmental assessment that’s required for the bridge replacement by November, followed by a formal public hearing and comment period.
If the Federal Highway Administration can reach a final decision and the bridge design is complete by February 2015, construction on the initial phases of the project could begin by May next year.
Project costs are still just estimates based on the early design stage, he said.
For now, about $40.5 million of the overall $60 million construction budget is expected to go toward the new bridge itself and the approaches from either side.
Another $9.5 million is expected to go toward replacement of the pedestrian bridge and the elevator system that city officials chose as a way to provide handicapped access from Seventh Street to the pedestrian bridge.
Another $5.5 million would go to establish a detour route during the anticipated two-month closure of the highway bridge while the final segment of the new bridge is put into place. That is anticipated in the fall of 2016.
Detour construction would include improvements to I-70 Exit 114 in West Glenwood and along north Midland Avenue, Elsen said. It would also include CDOT’s portion of the cost to help the city build the proposed Eighth Street connection to downtown, which would complete the detour route.
City Council is slated to discuss the Eighth Street project during a 6 p.m. work session on Thursday.
Another $3 million of the bridge project budget would go for various wall structures, and $1.5 million would go to build a bike/pedestrian underpass beneath the north end of the bridge near Sixth and Laurel.
Garfield commissioners were hesitant to say how much the county might contribute, especially given that county money for projects related to state highways is already stretched thin.
“We already have New Castle, Silt and Rifle asking for some help with their [I-70] interchanges, and we have a lot of money going into intersections along Highway 82,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said.
Other state sources, such as energy impact funds and other programs through the Department of Local Affairs, might also be looked to, county officials suggested.
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