New access revision addresses GSHS entrance
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Another proposed amendment to the Grand Avenue/Highway 82 Access Control Plan seeks to clean up and improve safety at the main public entrance into Glenwood Springs High School.
City Council, at its May 16 meeting, directed consultants to review an option in the long-term access plan to eventually create a signalized intersection serving the high school and several commercial properties on both sides of Grand Avenue in that vicinity.
As envisioned, the new access point would fall in-between the existing “15th Street” entrance to Rite Aid and the Executive Plaza, and what’s known as “D Street,” which now serves the high school and the Van Rand Center.
Two existing, offset access points, including the signalized intersection at Rite Aid, are not part of the city street system. Rather, they serve as public entrances to private businesses in the 1400 and 1500 blocks of Grand.
But, offered City Councilman Mike Gamba, consolidating those two accesses is “more practical” compared to a recommendation by state transportation officials to align Hyland Park and Park drives, located one block to the south, and put a new signal there.
“I don’t think the reconfiguration of Park and Hyland Park for a new traffic signal is realistic,” Gamba said. “There may be some trade-off in efficiency with this (high school entrance) option, but I think it would be less expensive, and it just seems more practical.”
The suggestion came during continued discussion of the proposed Colorado Department of Transportation Highway 82 Access Plan. Council is being asked to sign an inter-governmental agreement with CDOT and Garfield County to put the long-term access plan in place for the approximately four-mile stretch of Highway 82 from Interstate 70 through Glenwood Springs to what’s now the Orrison Distributing plant entrance south of town.
That stretch includes well over 100 private drives and public street accesses along Grand Avenue and South Glen Avenue. The goal of the access plan is to eventually consolidate, remove or alter some of those accesses as redevelopment occurs, public improvements are made, or safety concerns need to be addressed.
The realigned Park/Hyland Park intersection was offered by CDOT consultants and city engineers as a way to eventually provide a signalized intersection for residents of the heavily populated Park Drive neighborhood west of Grand Avenue to have full access onto Grand.
But, to accomplish that, it would require the elimination of either an existing church building on the east side of Grand, or several houses on Park Drive west of Grand.
Gamba’s option would accommodate residents in the Park Drive area by converting Polo Road west of the Van Rand Center to two-way traffic, so motorists can get to the proposed new traffic light he suggested by the high school.
Among the challenges of realigning the high school entrance, according to traffic consultant Michelle Hansen, is that it would require all of the affected commercial property owners and the school district to partner up on the project.
Also, there may not be enough room for a dedicated school bus turn lane, as there is with the existing high school entrance, she said.
“I would still like to see you take a second look at this and analyze that option,” said Gamba, who earned the support of council on a 5-0 vote, asking city staff and CDOT’s traffic consultants to further study the proposal.
Downtown to stay the same
As for another access plan revision proposed by City Council previously, CDOT agreed to maintain the 10th Street intersection as a full-movement, signalized intersection.
Hansen said there is “very little difference” between three signalized intersections in the downtown area and four. Council was earlier successful in convincing CDOT to keep the signalized intersection at Eighth Street for the long term as well. An earlier recommendation had proposed eliminating two of the four signalized intersections in downtown Glenwood Springs.
“That does reduce the opportunity for [traffic lane] medians,” which also had been discussed, Hansen said.
“But it does create more options for pedestrians and vehicle movements on and off of Grand,” she said. “We have heard that is a higher priority for the city than raised medians.”
Consultants also gave a thumbs-up to another recommendation from City Council to ensure that protected U-turns at key intersections are in place before any private driveways are converted to right-in, right-out only. Several such business and residential entrances are proposed to be restricted when and if redevelopment occurs in those areas.
City Council does not intend to make a decision on the Access Control Plan until it has all seven members present, which will likely put off a decision until the June 6 or June 20 council meeting.
However, a majority of council members are still leaning toward adopting the plan, as indicated by a few general statements offered at the end of the May 16 discussion.
“I do feel that this is a good plan, and it makes more sense to have this in place than for businesses to face the [state highway] access code on their own,” Councilman Todd Leahy said.
Without a negotiated access plan in place that includes the city’s input, any private access requests default to the more-restrictive access code.
Councilman Dave Sturges said he is still not convinced that the access plan needs to be adopted before the separate but related Grand Avenue bridge replacement study is complete early next year.
“I’m not saying scrap this plan, I’m just trying to find an opportunity for the community to participate more fully in this discussion,” Sturges said. “Let’s keep working on getting this right.”
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