Glenwood wins grant for Seventh Street improvements | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood wins grant for Seventh Street improvements

A rendering by consultants Shannon Murphy Landscape Architects and Charlier Associates shows the concept for a redesigned Seventh Street pedestrian plaza area.
City of Glenwood Springs / DDA |

Glenwood Springs will receive $400,000 in state Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance money to help pay for the city’s planned reconstruction of Seventh Street in conjunction with the new Grand Avenue bridge.

City and Downtown Development Authority officials were informed of the grant award Tuesday.

Rifle was the other big Garfield County recipient in grants announced by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, winning $800,000 for a waterline connection to the south Rifle area.

The Glenwood Springs grant is less than half of the $1 million that was requested, but will still go a long way to see the downtown improvements project through to reality, DDA Executive Director Leslie Bethel said.

“The project is very real now,” Bethel said. “We still have to put our heads together to look at how we move forward, and take a coordinated approach with CDOT.”

The Colorado Department of Transportation is almost a year into construction of the new $125 million Grand Avenue/Colorado 82 vehicle bridge and new pedestrian bridge, which has brought significant changes to the lower downtown area.

Plans call for creating a “festival street” along Seventh between the historic Amtrak train station and the area beneath the bridge as it comes into the downtown area. The south landing of the new pedestrian bridge, called Seventh Street Station, includes a decorative elevator tower and stairway providing access to the new walkway over the railroad tracks, the Colorado River and Interstate 70.

Two-way traffic is to be maintained on Seventh Street while providing more room for outdoor dining, festivals and public gathering spaces.

The project is to be built in multiple phases, and as envisioned the improvements would extend farther west on Seventh toward the river confluence area that is also being planned for major redevelopment.

“Goals of the project are to create a destination pedestrian environment, provide space for community events, support four seasons of commercial activity, and preserve convenient access and circulation,” according to a city news release announcing the grant award.

Earlier this fall, the city also received a $400,000 Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant for the project, and the city has set aside $1 million for phase one of the construction.

The initial phase is estimated to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million to complete, meaning additional money will likely be needed or the project will have to be scaled back some. The DDA is planning an open house in the near future to discuss the design, and will meet with Glenwood City Council on Dec. 15 to go over project details.

“One of the things that’s really inspiring to me right now with the city is the amount of teamwork that’s going into this,” Bethel said.

Energy Impact grants come from state severance tax proceeds related to oil and gas and mineral production.

Overall, $9.3 million in impact assistance grants were awarded to 25 local governments as part of the program’s Tier 1 (up to $200,000) and Tier 2 ($200,000 to $2 million) requests.

Kimberly Bullen, assistant city manager for Rifle, said the $800,000 Rifle grant will go toward installation of a redundant waterline to serve the south Rifle area. It’s part of the city’s larger North-South Integration project, which also will include relocation of the park-and-ride lot and construction of a north roundabout, she said.

Some $1.6 million in grants went to broadband initiatives around the state. DOLA Executive Director Irv Halter noted in a news release that severance tax collections are expected to be down 43 percent for the fiscal year ending in June 2017. As a result, DOLA is combining what would normally be two grant cycles into one.

“By combining the next two cycles, communities will have more time to assess their priorities and submit applications accordingly,” Halter said.