Glenwood Springs bridge ceremony honors ‘A Grand Partnership’
Glenwood Springs and other Roaring Fork Valley residents gathered underneath the new Grand Avenue Bridge at the Seventh Street corridor Friday morning to recognize the formal completion of the largest infrastructure project on the Western Slope in more than 25 years.
“The best slope, I mean the West Slope,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said during the dedication ceremony, prompting laughter and applause from the hundreds in attendance.
Hickenlooper also talked about topophilia, which, as defined by Collins English Dictionary equates to, “the love of or emotional connections with place or physical environment.”
Speaking to the new Grand Avenue Bridges’ “aesthetic quality, yet basic infrastructure,” the governor also loved how one could come down and enjoy beignets at The Lost Cajun, a glass of wine at The Riviera Supper Club or get a tattoo at one of the nearby parlors.
The $126-million bridge paid for out of the state Bridge Enterprise Fund took the better part of five years to plan, design and construct. It involved countless public meetings in an attempt to include community members in the design, which ultimately led to the realignment of the bridge from its former straight shot north over the Colorado River to Sixth and Pine, to the adopted curved alignment connecting to Interstate 70 and the new Sixth-and-Laurel roundabout.
Glenwood Springs Chief of Police Terry Wilson also praised the community partnerships and said, “I think Glenwood Springs showed its best.” Wilson attended the ceremony in one of the colorful hats he routinely sported while directing detour traffic during the final stages of the bridge construction.
Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky also called the development a “social project, but social experiment, as well.”
The commissioner thanked Glenwood Springs’ residents for their patience and perseverance, from riding bikes to carpooling during the detour, and also recognized Glenwood Springs’ Police and Fire Departments for keeping the public safe throughout the hefty construction project.
Following short speeches from distinguished officials, the public looked on as the governor, the chief of police and others cut the ribbon that officially marked the project’s completion.
A time capsule filled with memorabilia, including a scroll with signatures from Glenwood residents, was placed for future generations to reopen in July 2085, the city’s bicentennial celebration year. It was also installed and later sealed underneath the bridge.
“A Grand Partnership” plaque was also unveiled, which stated, “The Grand Avenue Bridge Project was designed and constructed by fine craftsmen, architects, and engineers with dedicated support from our project partners and the local communities.” Those partners included Colorado Department of Transportation, the city of Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and more.
The sentiment of the entire celebration was partnership and community.
“I think it’s wonderful how the community came together,” Glenwood Springs resident Julia Bennett said. “From carpooling to the humor with the chief of police’s hats, to me, that right there represents Glenwood’s personality and its core value of love of community.’
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Fire investigators are still working on determining the cause of Tuesday’s house fire in Glenwood Springs, which left no one injured but caused extensive damage.