Glenwood open to running north-end shuttle during Grand Avenue bridge detour
Glenwood Springs may run an additional neighborhood shuttle bus along Donegan Road to the area north of the Grand Avenue bridge during the bridge detour later this year. It would be another way to move people between West Glenwood and downtown and help reduce traffic along the Midland Avenue detour route.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is finalizing a transit mitigation plan for the planned 95-day bridge closure and detour. The bridge will close from Aug. 14 through the latter part of November, when the final segment of the new bridge connecting Colorado 82 to Interstate 70 will be built.
The plan currently calls for using Ride Glenwood buses every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The buses will run between Glenwood Meadows and the north bridge area near the Hotel Colorado, via Wulfsohn Road, Midland Avenue, U.S. 6 and Sixth Street.
Additional shuttles will run every 12 to 15 minutes during peak times from the West Glenwood park-and-ride along the Midland Avenue and Eighth Street detour route to Grand Avenue and to the 27th Street transit station. Another shuttle will run between 27th Street and the Amtrak station on Seventh Street.
It’s all part of the city, RFTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s efforts to reduce peak Grand Avenue/Colorado 82 traffic by 20 to 25 percent during the detour period and limit traffic delays.
The question before Glenwood City Council on Thursday night was whether the city should invest an additional $100,000-plus to run a neighborhood shuttle from West Glenwood to the north part of downtown, in addition to RFTA’s existing plan.
City Transportation Manager Tanya Allen advised against the proposal due to the cost and logistical challenges, but a majority of council members said they would like to further explore the idea.
To be effective, the daytime shuttle would have to run more frequently than every half hour, and ideally every 15 minutes, Mayor Michael Gamba said. RFTA’s route might work for people wanting to get from the Meadows to areas along Highway 6. But residents of West Glenwood are unlikely to use it, he said.
“This is a time when we really want people to use these transit options,” Gamba said. “If we’re going to get people out of their cars and use the bus, we have to make it functional and convenient for them.”
A Donegan Road route stands a chance of being effective, he said, because it avoids the Midland and Eighth Street detour route altogether. It drops people where they can walk across the Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge to access other transit connections south of the Colorado River.
There are some challenges, though.
First, RFTA’s bus fleet will be maxed out during the detour period. The extra neighborhood route would instead make use of the older mini buses that were used last summer on the North-South Connector route that carried people over the Grand Avenue bridge between the Amtrak station and the Hotel Colorado. That service was ultimately discontinued for lack of riders.
“These buses are older buses with reliability issues … and (RFTA) may not be readily able to provide additional backup vehicles in the event of a problem,” Allen wrote in a memo to City Council. “This could make it difficult to provide consistent, reliable service on these routes.”
Renting or acquiring additional vehicles would come at additional cost, she said, and paying RFTA to provide drivers for the extra shuttle route is already outside the city’s budget.
Logistically, the city would have to work with RFTA and CDOT to find a place on either end of the route for loading and unloading passengers. Temporary bus stops along Donegan Road would have to be identified and signed, Allen said.
Parking on the west end of the route for people who can’t easily walk to a bus stop is also a concern, Councilman Steve Davis noted. The owners of the Glenwood Springs Mall have not been open to allowing parking there during the detour period.
“I’d like to support this, but people need some place to park,” Davis said. “I think we have to do something to serve those areas. I just hope we aren’t watching a bunch of empty buses running up and down there.”
The Council indicated it would be willing to fund the extra neighborhood shuttle, but only if RFTA can commit to a 15-minute headway.
Allen said RFTA and the city will need to agree to a plan soon so the route can be included in the transit mitigation plan.
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