Redevelopment planning tops Glenwood’s 2017 priorities
A long list of priority infrastructure projects, redevelopment planning and general citywide improvements has been getting regular attention in recent months as Glenwood Springs enters the year in which the new Grand Avenue bridge will be completed.
At the same time, much of what Glenwood would like to eventually accomplish is on hold until the bridge is built and open, and observations are being made as to the new traffic patterns that will result with the realigned bridge that links Colorado 82 to Interstate 70 and serves as the main north-south city connection across the Colorado River.
“A lot of what we have been talking about has to do with transportation and connectivity,” said Kathryn Trauger, at-large City Council representative.
While the city wants to avoid being “forever a town under construction,” much must be done to address some long-deferred maintenance and make the necessary improvements to enhance Glenwood’s economic viability, Trauger said.
“So many things are still looming out there once the bridge does get done that we will very likely be in project mode for years to come,” she said.
One major project that will be completed this spring is the new 14th Street pedestrian bridge over the Roaring Fork River.
Work also likely will begin on the next phase of the Seventh Street improvements along “restaurant row,” which will be accessed by the new downtown pedestrian bridge that’s on track to open in March.
For the most part, though, 2017 will be a year of planning.
Much of that focus will be on a master plan to better connect the distinct areas on either side of the new Grand Avenue bridge, including the Sixth and Seventh street corridors and the eventual redevelopment of the Roaring Fork and Colorado river confluence area west of the main downtown.
The city is awaiting word on an EPA Area Wide Grant that would go a long way toward refining the confluence master plan as it relates to the city’s former sewer plant site that fronts the Roaring Fork River.
City Manager Debra Figueroa, who took the helm last June, is taking the lead in working with the Downtown Development Authority to move that project forward.
The city is also assessing how much property acquisition will be necessary to make the Eighth Street connection a permanent city street. The Colorado Department of Transportation built the current temporary link to be used as part of the 95-day Grand Avenue bridge detour that will start in mid-August while the final segment of the new bridge is built.
“We are fortunate to have a city manager who is really able to help us find some of the additional financing that we will need to see some of these things through,” Trauger said.
Voter approval of a 30-year extension of a 1-cent city public improvements tax in November, along with $54 million in bonding authority, will also go a long way to see the various projects through to eventual completion.
Among the various transportation-related projects, the city will also continue planning for replacement of the 27th Street bridge and related improvements at the intersection of 27th and South Grand Avenue. Improvements to South Midland Avenue and final completion of the South Bridge project environmental assessment are also on the planning table.
A host of recreation-related projects include further planning for the Two Rivers and Veltus parks shoreline restoration efforts, and continued work to plan for a soft trails network in the hills above town that is being pushed by mountain biking enthusiasts.
And, equally important from an economic development standpoint, though less touchy-feely, is the city’s ongoing efforts to move its broadband strategic plan forward. Expanding the existing broadband fiber network will be a topic of continued research in 2017, said Bob Farmer, information systems director for the city.
“Glenwood does not have the last mile of fiber to serve residential clients,” the city notes in its priority projects planning document.
The “last mile” means building the necessary infrastructure to get fiber networks from the street to the house or business, Farmer explained.
“That’s usually a very expensive component,” he said. “We have a good middle mile, and a good backbone in place, but anytime we have to dig a new trench it gets expensive.”
Trauger said expansion of the city’s broadband network is important for economic development. For now, though, given the long list of other projects, broadband remains a medium priority for Glenwood Springs.
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The family of Rosie Ferrin has worked to clean up and make safe again the old schoolhouse in downtown New Castle. Ferrin died this summer and had owned the building that included classrooms turned into apartments for years.