Glenwood Springs, RFTA dual study may cost $600,000
As the city of Glenwood Springs and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s capital projects begin to intersect, the two entities want comprehensive data that can drive future transportation related decisions.
That data would come from a study, which would carry an estimated $600,000 price tag. Of that, the city may pay half, with $150,000 being pulled from the 2019 budget — an amount not previously budgeted — and the remaining balance coming out of its 2020 budget.
For some councilors, another “study,” particularly one that would cost $300,000, was too much.
“The parking study that we need is probably a $50,000 study,” Councilor Steve Davis said at the July 18 City Council meeting, ahead of abstaining from the 4-1 vote in favor of releasing a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for the study.
“That’s what we spent on the last parking study that we did, and we put it on a shelf somewhere,” Davis said.
According to a draft of the proposed study’s description, 15 past and future resources consisting of projects, plans and studies would serve as “guiding plans and documents.”
At this point, no money has been spent on the latest study, however the city and RFTA will likely split the $500,000-plus bill after vetting each of the RFQ’s responses.
“It’s the cost — wants versus needs,” Councilor Tony Hershey said Tuesday of his opposition to funding the study. “We can’t afford to be spending money on studies for projects that are not going to happen. I am not going to agree to expenditures that are not necessary.”
According to a recent staff report, the project’s scope of work would, among other things, study parking, transit operations and intersection operations.
In addition to looking into short-term and long-term parking, the study would evaluate possible paid parking in the downtown area, along with new enforcement technologies.
“They want to do a city-wide parking plan, which is really not in RFTA’s purview,” RFTA CEO Dan Blankenship said of one of the reasons the city and RFTA agreed to split the proposed study’s cost.
“I don’t think it would be our responsibility, or our place, to come in and review the city’s parking and develop a plan.”
TRANSIT & INTERSECTION OPERATIONS
The consultant would also consider locations for a new BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) station north of I-70, possibly in West Glenwood, with the hope of offering Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service in the city’s downtown core.
According to the same staff report, “Ideas that would be considered by the consultant to allow BRT service through Glenwood Springs’ downtown include: Dedicated bus lanes on Grand Avenue, Pitkin, Colorado, Cooper, or on the Rio Grande Trail Transit signal priority.”
Additionally, the study would examine key downtown intersections and make recommendations about changes in signal timing or operational changes.
“Several of the proposed projects require outside expertise. A study to locate a future BRT terminal seems to me like a legitimate use of RFTA and city resources,” Councilor Rick Voorhees stated in a recent interview.
“The city has needs, and so does RFTA; we can’t consider them independently,” he said. “The city should be at the table all the way.”
Added Blankenship, “Glenwood Springs is a member of RFTA and we want to work in partnership with them to make sure that we’re making these investments in the best locations for the good of the community.”
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