Residents voice their Grand visions
Post Independent Staff
Imagine a Grand Avenue with lots of trees, roundabouts, fewer lights and no trucks.
Some Glenwood Springs residents envisioned such a future for the city’s main thoroughfare Tuesday evening as part of day one of a three-day workshop on reclaiming Grand Avenue through traffic-calming measures.
Besides those mentioned above, some top goals residents identified Tuesday night are more mass transit on Grand, a focus on addressing traffic choke points, and a desire not to have Grand Avenue solutions create new problems in residential areas.
Tuesday evening’s brainstorming at the Glenwood Springs Community Center was part of an attempt to involve the public from the get-go in improving its main street. Too often, traffic calming consultant Dan Burden told those in attendance, traffic planning involves engineers proposing solutions, and public involvement only comes later.
“And then there starts what we call the screaming match because they weren’t involved,” Burden said.
He said while communities might seek the advice of others, it’s up to them to agree on goals and work out the details for achieving them.
“It’s never outsiders coming up with the best ideas,” Burden said.
The city of Glenwood Springs brought in Burden and fellow consultant Troy Russ this week in hopes of zeroing in on means for easing congestion on Grand Avenue and making it a more welcoming place for pedestrians, bicyclists and other nonmotorists. Before the communitywide gathering Tuesday night, the consultants also met in separate sessions with government, emergency service, education, health-care and business representatives to hear their specific concerns about Grand Avenue and discuss possible solutions with them.
Tuesday evening, they ran through ideas that have worked on thoroughfares in other communities, which they have suggested in previous visits to Glenwood Springs, such as narrower traffic lanes, wider sidewalks and fewer driveways.
But the public forum also was intended to hear what city residents want done to improve Grand. And for some, any approach that doesn’t involve getting truck and through traffic off Grand falls short.
Dean Moffatt said ideas for improving conditions on Grand have been discussed for decades.
“It’s all window dressing until we have a bypass or alternate route,” he said.
But that goal could put supporters of a new through route at odds with others in attendance Tuesday who listed values such as scenery and recreation as being important to Glenwood. For years, the city has been eyeing the railroad corridor along the Roaring Fork River as a possible site for moving Highway 82 off of Grand. A recreation path now runs down the corridor.
Russ suggested that Glenwood look at Grand Avenue solutions beyond an alternate route. He noted that building such a route requires a lot of interagency agreement.
“You’re not going to get the answer in any short time frame and I really wouldn’t hang your hat on it,” he said.
In the meantime, he said, Glenwood can take a lesson from Winter Park, Fla., which gets a lot of through traffic on its main thoroughfare, but insists on a street design that places an emphasis on Winter Park’s needs rather than just those of pass-through motorists.
“They’re making them come through on their terms,” he said.
Although Grand Avenue is a state highway, Burden said Colorado Department of Transportation officials have expressed an interest in trying some “bold things” on Grand Avenue for the sake of the city.
“So think big,” he advised.
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