No development without south bridge
Three Cheers. Three cheers for the clear thinking and sound reasoning by our level-headed and apparently prescient city manager, Mr. Mike Copp, in regards to the proposed “south bridge” connecting the Midland Corridor to Highway 82 south of Cardiff (Post Independent, Jan. 15, Pg. 1). Mr. Copp advances several cogent reasons for keeping south bridge high on the priority list for city/county/state attention and action. His case is indeed compelling.
Further to his arguments, I note that the city has already committed to more intensive development of the Four Mile Road corridor by approving, and then indicating its willingness to annex, the Red Feather development with its 100-plus home sites. Mr. Copp is properly of the opinion that, if south bridge is an impractical proposition, then any further development along Four Mile should be curtailed immediately. With Red Feather now a fait acompli, Mr. Copp’s concerns are only magnified.
And now comes the thought that perhaps the Glenwood Springs airport should be retired in favor of some “higher” use: perhaps a new high school or perhaps more high density housing. Egads!
A new development at the base of Four Mile, the inevitable uphill development of Four Mile, skiers at Sunlight, a new high school and municipal athletic campus and only one way in and out: contemplate the congestion.
I have heard it said that when the city’s Urban Growth Boundary line was drawn at the base of Four Mile that the line’s placement was arbitrary and had no profound logic behind it. Well, perhaps it was accidental common sense, but nevertheless it seems that, absent a south bridge of some description, urbanization of this part of the city is profoundly illogical. Even if inadvertent, that boundary had a lot to recommend it.
Topologically, once you cross Sunlight bridge and proceed south on Midland Avenue, you enter a giant, dead ended cul-de-sac. Today this route is subject to obstruction or closure by weather, rock fall, fire, accident and construction. Additionally, the southern terminus of Midland will be very difficult to widen being bound by steep hillside to the west and the populated river valley to the east. This poses its own difficulty, and is perhaps reason enough to constrain growth in this area, but to perpetuate these circumstances by not considering a second outlet to Highway 82 is to shirk our municipal responsibilities to our citizens.
Pursuant to this, the city is currently making a substantial investment in a new, manned fire station at the base of Four Mile. Certainly this investment will not return its full value if equipment and personnel are constrained to use only the Sunlight bridge (which itself has in the past been subject to periodic closure) in the event that they are needed to the south.
I am aware that the prospect of a parallel pathway to Highway 82 is worrisome to some in the business community for fear that potential customers will bypass the city’s commercial core. This concern can and should be addressed as we do our transportation infrastructure planning but it is not a fatal flaw. I hope this concern is not at the root of those who consider south bridge impractical. Traffic relief in the downtown core will only make our city a more desirable destination. Dining al fresco with tableside diesel fumes and 95-decibel noise levels or shopping in a stew of polluted air, dust and airborne detritus is not good for business.
Personally I believe that development of the South Midland/airport area is going to be very problematic because of the difficulty (impossibility?) of widening Midland south of Sunlight Bridge. Mr. Copp has it right, though, if we cannot commit to a south bridge strategy, with all of its implications, then we should abandon any aspirations for intensive development in this area, formulate an equitable but restrained growth plan, and preserve the quality of life for those residents currently in place, as am I.
Michael W. Larime
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