In the 2017 crystal ball: Bridge to the future
As we greet 2017, it’s time for the Post Independent’s annual predictions for the new year.
This is the third year in a row that we’ve done this, so we might even call it a tradition, though at the outset of 2015, we tried to be completely serious.
For 2016, some of our predictions were mostly serious and some were decidedly ridiculous or snarky and meant purely in fun. We liked that mixed approach.
We actually didn’t do too badly last year with the more serious predictions. We accurately foresaw that John Martin would seek a sixth term on the Garfield County commission and would be challenged in the Republican primary. He was, and he won that challenge and the general election.
We said that a former prosecutor would run against District Attorney Sherry Caloia, and Jeff Cheney in fact will be the new DA as of Jan. 10.
We were wrong about Glenwood Springs starting a bike share program — it proved too logistically difficult and expensive at least for now — and were wrong in predicting expanded, year-round homeless shelter services in Glenwood and Carbondale.
Undaunted — or perhaps emboldened because we got a couple obvious ones right — here we go for 2017.
BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS
• When the new pedestrian bridge over the Colorado River and Interstate 70 opens in March, visitors and residents will be impressed by the pleasant walk and the space. It will be the first real look at the advantages downtown Glenwood will reap from the overall Grand Avenue bridge project.
• Traffic through Glenwood Springs is going to be worse than any of us can imagine when the existing Grand Avenue bridge closes in August for an estimated 95 days. We’re going to predict, though, that road rage will be minimal and that, after a couple of weeks of driver pain, bus ridership, carpooling and creative solutions will help. But it’s going to be a kind of traffic hell rare for a rural area.
• We also believe that the new bridge will open before Jan. 1, 2018, pretty much on schedule. The project has run on time so far, and being open for skiers to get to Aspen and Snowmass for Christmas will be a priority.
• The Glenwood City Council loses its liberal wing after elections April 4, with two of the more progressive members are term-limited, Leo McKinney (Ward 5 — South Glenwood) and Stephen Bershenyi (at large). Matt Steckler (Ward 2 — West Glenwood), who is a little more moderate, also is term-limited. Our prediction: We expect a least one anti-marijuana candidate to run on the platform for closing down the shops, or at least severely restricting them. It will be interesting to see if there are any contested races for the ward seats, or any candidates at all for that matter, given past lack of interest. Perhaps former Councilman Russ Arensman will run for the at-large seat.
• Children and parents will be delighted with two major school construction projects that will be complete this fall, the pre-K-to-eighth-grade Riverview School south of Glenwood, and the renovated Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
• This spring, expect to hear the next recommendations for controlling crowds at Hanging Lake, the wildly popular attraction just off Interstate 70 east of Glenwood. Crowds fueled in part by social media postings about the hike and jewel-like lake at the top have damaged the trail and created safety problems in the parking lot and on I-70.
• The Trump administration will approve the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas export terminal in Oregon, which promises to open new markets to Colorado gas. Overall, the administration’s move to peel back environmental regulation and push for fossil fuel production will lead to optimism and a small 2017 natural gas rebound in Garfield County. Whether it’s sustained will depend on new markets being opened to help boost demand and thus the commodity’s price.
• Democrats in Congress and across the country will give President Donald Trump at least as much cooperation and deference out of respect for the office that Republicans gave Barack Obama for the past eight years.
ON THE FENCE
• We’re uncertain about construction of a new City Market in Carbondale. Kroger, the nation’s largest grocer and parent of City Market, put a freeze on most capital projects earlier this year as food prices weakened. Kroger’s fourth-quarter earnings were tepid, and a rumor in October said it was looking to acquire Whole Foods. We hope the Carbondale store gets built, but it seems iffy right now.
• The Trump administration might leave legal marijuana alone, although the attorney general-designate, Jeff Sessions, is a foe. In April, he said, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana,” and it is “not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” We nonetheless think that the libertarian/states-rights streak in the Republican Party and broad support for legal pot will prevail over Sessions’ “Reefer Madness” attitude. Maybe.
• We think Congress or the Interior Department through rule-making will give states stronger say about minerals extraction from public lands. But we don’t expect the administration to move, immediately anyway, to sell or turn over large amounts of Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management tracts. Interior Secretary-designate Ryan Zinke from Montana has been a foe: “The sale or transfer of our land is an extreme proposal and I won’t tolerate it,” he said in a June news release.
AND NOT SO SERIOUS
• Ever seeking a solution to Interstate 70 congestion, the Colorado Department of Transportation will partner with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Google’s driverless cars projects to test a 100-passenger hovercraft to carry tourists from the Western Slope to the Front Range. They’ll call it Spacestang even though it will be suborbital.
• The Glenwood Canyon bighorn sheep, after their hit appearance in town early this month, will sign up with Vaudeville Revue owner John Goss for cameos in the 2017 holiday show.
• People from east of Colorado will be banned from Hanging Lake and the Maroon Bells, freeing money for search and rescue teams to buy new equipment.
• The last two World Series champions, the Royals and Cubs, have been a small-market team and a long-cursed team. This year, the smaller-market, typically suffering Colorado Rockies will surprise baseball and make it the National League Championship Series. But they will lose to the Cubs, who start a new streak, winning their second straight World Series while winning 100-plus games once again under Joe Maddon.
• After that, Peyton Manning will slip out of his bathrobe to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl title before returning to his DirecTV career. He’s on the phone with John Elway now.
• Alex Baldwin will win an Emmy for his portrayal of Donald Trump. The president will tweet that “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear presence at unfunny SNL production. Sad.”
• Congress will pass the Remington Personal Security Act requiring every adult American to own at least one gun. The government gets 10 percent of gross in lieu of taxes.
• Hillary Clinton will be named chief of U.S. cybersecurity and will work from home. This may not happen, but it will be the headline of a real fake news story.