Highway 82 access plan adopted
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — City Council voted 6-0 Thursday night to enter into an agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation adopting the much-debated Highway 82 Access Control Plan.
“We’re about 95 percent there with what we have before us,” Councilman Matt Steckler said in making the motion to approve the long-range plan.
“It’s a complicated plan, and it can be amended,” he said. “We could always keep talking about it and tweaking it, but we have been going after this for a long time.”
The access plan, put together by consultants and engineers working for CDOT, the city and Garfield County, lays out a preferred plan for consolidating and restricting access onto and off of Highway 82 as it passes through Glenwood Springs on Sixth Street, Grand Avenue and South Glen Avenue.
The study area also takes in the portion of Highway 82 running south of Glenwood Springs to what’s now the Orrison Distributing plant near the intersection of County Road 154. Garfield County commissioners will also soon decide whether to enter into the agreement with CDOT to implement the plan.
Recommendations in the plan, such as limiting private business and residential driveways to right-in, right-out only and consolidating signalized intersections, would only be implemented in the event of re-development of a particular area, a major public street project affecting the corridor, or for safety reasons.
The vote to adopt the plan came against the objections of those who would prefer to see a broader city transportation plan that could include relocating Highway 82 off of Grand Avenue.
“I would encourage you not to approve this until you can take the time to work through some of this,” John Haines, who heads up the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue group, said as council debated how to handle access in the vicinity of Glenwood Springs High School and the City Market/Rite Aid complex.
“And, if you get Highway 82 off of Grand, you won’t have to worry about the access plan,” he said.
Added Grand Avenue resident and city transportation commission member Cheryl Cain, “This has always been a plan driven by CDOT, not the city of the Glenwood Springs.
“The citizens need to be included in this,” she said, repeating her call for the city to develop a comprehensive transportation plan and Highway 82 bypass study.
Council members Mike Gamba and Todd Leahy continued to lobby for including a long-range option in the access plan that would create a reconfigured, signalized intersection in front of Glenwood Springs High School.
“That’s a pretty big area to not have a left-hand turn onto Grand,” Gamba said of a void between 14th Street south to 20th Street where it’s possible, under the access plan, that there would be no left-hand turns from the west side of Grand onto Grand Avenue.
“I’d rather see it be an option in the plan, rather than go through an amendment process to add it later,” he said.
However, traffic consultant Michelle Hansen and city engineer Terri Partch, along with CDOT officials, recommended against putting a traffic signal at a realigned entrance into the high school and the Van Rand Center, which is currently not a public street.
School district officials also expressed concerns with the suggested alignment around student safety, potential loss of parking at the high school and difficulty creating a wide enough turn radius for school buses with the curved street alignment that Gamba had proposed.
Instead, the access plan would keep the pedestrian crossing signal from the high school to the grocery store and shopping center across Grand. A signal is also recommended farther south at Hyland Park North, but with right-in, right-out turns only at Park Drive.
Those two streets are now offset. An option remains in the access plan to realign that intersection in the future should redevelopment occur or one or more of the properties be put on the market for potential acquisition by the city.
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