Glenwood Springs takes key step toward new mid-town bridge
Glenwood Springs is about to put a key piece of the puzzle in place to eventually complete a major new vehicle connection across the Roaring Fork River at 14th Street over to Midland Avenue and the Red Mountain neighborhood.
The city is under contract to purchase a string of land parcels on the eastern bank of the river just north and west of Glenwood Springs High School where 14th Street curves into Coach Miller Lane. The potential vehicle bridge alignment, which is one of the projects in the city’s long-range transportation master plan, would be downstream from where a new pedestrian bridge is currently under construction.
City Council, at a special Sept. 22 meeting, initiated a $685,000 contract to buy the property from current owner Darwin Raymond.
Several things need to happen before the deal closes, but Glenwood Mayor Mike Gamba said it was too good an opportunity for the city to pass up.
“If we are going to eventually put a vehicular bridge there, it needs to align with 14th Street, and this gives us that direct alignment,” Gamba said.
It was Raymond who approached Gamba about his interest in selling, and Gamba took the proposal to City Council.
“Strategically, this is an important piece of property for anything to happen in that location,” Gamba said, adding that other property on either side of the river would also need to be acquired before the bridge project can be considered.
“There’s really no way we could build it without this property,” he said. “Still, we all recognize it may be a long time before we’re able to do anything.”
The bench area along the river in that vicinity has been of interest to city officials going back many years when Glenwood began planning for a possible future Highway 82 bypass route. Some on council have also suggested the city should eventually buy up the entire stretch for a river park, but no strong consensus has ever emerged.
Gamba, in particular, has pushed hard for both a vehicle and pedestrian connection across the river in that part of town. The idea, he said, is to spread out traffic that now has to go to either 27th Street and across the Sunlight bridge, or to the Eighth Street bridge where a new street connection is being built for next year’s Highway 82/Grand Avenue bridge detour.
The city is hoping to make the straight-shot Eighth Street connection permanent, but in the case of both Eighth and 14th streets, securing permission to cross the railroad corridor and Rio Grande Trail comes into play.
The corridor, which is legally railbanked to preserve the possibility of a commuter rail line in the future, is managed by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. An access control plan, which is still in the process of being updated, seeks to limit or consolidate corridor crossings.
“We have looked at the [14th Street] bridge from an engineering perspective, and the alignment is pretty simple. We do have to cross the RFTA corridor though, which based on discussions they seem amenable to,” Gamba said.
Although costs are very preliminary, the city is likely looking at something in the range of $8 million to build a bridge in that location, not including any intersection improvements that would need to be made at Midland Avenue and probably at 14th and Grand, Gamba added.
City Manager Debra Figueroa said the land deal is still subject to an appraisal, site surveys and other due diligence on the part of both the seller and the city before the contract is finalized.
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