RFTA on Glenwood’s Rio Grande corridor? It’s a possibility
Glenwood Springs is not yet ready to rule out routing RFTA buses down the Rio Grande corridor.
The idea was brought up in a presentation by city engineer Terri Partch about the MOVE study at Thursday’s regular City Council meeting.
One of the purposes of the presentation, according to the staff report in council’s packet, was “confirmation of the direction forward with the study alternatives.”
“Are there any [bus rapid transit] options that we should not continue forward with?” Partch asked at the end of her presentation.
“I think the Rio Grande idea is a no-starter,” Councilor Tony Hershey said.
Despite a majority of council being opposed to the idea of using the Rio Grande corridor, councilors gave Partch the OK to continue looking into all options.
RFTA and the city are coordinating on the MOVE study to plan for growth in population — and subsequently traffic — in Glenwood Springs.
“The main purposes behind the MOVE study were to evaluate having BRT in our downtown area, looking at some of our parking issues, then looking at vehicle operations and safety for pedestrians and bikes,” Partch said.
The 55 minutes of presentation and discussion focused largely on an alignment for RFTA BRT service from roughly the Colorado River south to the existing BRT station. Also discussed were dedicated bus lanes on Grand Avenue.
Possible BRT alignments
Of five routes to run buses to south Glenwood — including remaining on Grand Avenue — the Rio Grande corridor dominated the discussion.
Partch’s presentation showed several slides of buses separated from bikers or hikers by a wooden fence.
Councilor Paula Stepp asked about how the backyards that border the Rio Grande would be sheltered from the buses.
Partch answered that it would be the same method used to separate the bus corridor from the trail, such as fences, walls and vertical separation, meaning the bus corridor would be somewhat elevated.
Councilor Steve Davis was not enthusiastic about any of the study suggestions.
“I don’t like anything I see here. I particularly don’t like [using] the Rio Grande Trail and having buses running up and down in the backyards of houses,” he said.
The Downtown Development Authority board preferred the RFTA trail alignment, while the city Transportation Committee was strongly opposed, according to the staff report.
Another option favored by a focus group was the “hybrid,” using Grand Avenue to 14th Street and then transitioning to the Rio Grande Trail from 14th to Eighth.
Dedicated bus lanes
Removing Grand Avenue parking to establish dedicated bus lanes was an option to improve the speed of buses as compared to cars.
In feedback provided to the project and presented by Partch, the Downtown Development Authority was concerned about the loss of parking on Grand as well as turning Grand into a “highway” with three travel lanes in each direction with this option.
Mayor Jonathan Godes said that removing parking from Grand Avenue would be an option he would consider removing from the study.
Davis told Partch, “I hope you’re not spending a lot of time on this because I think the community’s going to be not even lukewarm but cold on most of this.”
Councilor Charlie Willman was more forgiving.
“When I said, ‘We should continue to explore all options,’ I meant ‘What’s the best way we can get this done that serves everybody’s needs,’” he said.
Councilor Rick Voorhees also was in favor of exploring options, no matter how “unpalatable” he found BRT on the Rio Grande corridor or dedicated bus lanes on Grand Avenue.
“I don’t like those two options either, but I don’t want to foreclose them at the moment,” he said.
Councilor Shelley Kaup was on vacation and did not attend the meeting.
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