Glenwood South Bridge proposal moving to next design level |

Glenwood South Bridge proposal moving to next design level

A photo illustration of the proposed South Bridge route from Airport Road, under the airport runway, over the Roaring Fork River and to a new Colorado 82 highway interchange.

The long-discussed South Bridge Project in Glenwood Springs will move on to the next stage of design, even if money to actually build the estimated $45 million Airport Road route and bridge over to Colorado 82 is anything but defined.

City Engineer Terri Partch said enough money is left from a $5.5 million 2005 congressional earmark to take the project to 30 percent design once the federal environmental assessment process concludes this fall.

City Council has already given the thumbs-up to proceed to the next steps in designing the route and determining how much right of way will need to be acquired to complete the project.

About 50 people turned out for a community meeting Wednesday at Sopris Elementary School to catch up on the latest proposal, ask questions and express concerns.

A few people who live in the neighborhoods along Airport Road and in Glenwood Park and Park East and West remain leery of the redirected traffic that would result from the new route, Partch said.

Landowners on the east side of the Roaring Fork River where the bridge would land and a new road would be built connecting to the state highway also have concerns about access to their properties and a water ditch that serves the irrigated fields in the vicinity, she acknowledged.

A more-detailed design will address those particular concerns, Partch said.

The concept of a southerly route across the Roaring Fork River to 82 has been in discussion since the 2002 Coal Seam Fire, when the lack of a secondary outlet on that end of town became a safety concern.

The federal earmark provided money to plan route options and conduct a federally required environmental assessment. Since then, the city and Garfield County have been working with the Federal Highway Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation to do the study.

The EA, including a preferred route alternative, was released in late 2013. Based on input from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, which oversees the Rio Grande Trail and rail corridor that the route will have to cross, the design was modified to include an at-grade corridor crossing with a new grade-separated highway interchange.

The preliminary design also now includes a tunnel beneath the municipal airport runway that will provide a more direct route over the river without additional property acquisition. That piece of the design also comes at a cost of $4.2 million alone, Partch said.

Airport supporters were also on hand at the Wednesday meeting to voice their concern about the future of the airport. The city is considering an updated study to evaluate the airport property and the future of the facility. That decision will be made at budget time this fall.

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