State to consider OKing Hwy 82 study | PostIndependent.com
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State to consider OKing Hwy 82 study

Everybody talks about Glenwood Springs’ Grand Avenue traffic problems. As early as next year, the city may take an important step toward doing something about it.On Thursday, the Colorado Transportation Commission is scheduled to consider approving a study that would evaluate the full range of possible solutions to the problem of growing congestion on Grand, which also serves as state Highway 82.The city will pay for what’s called a corridor optimization study, which probably would be completed over six to eight months next year.The city budgeted $125,000 for the study, but learned during a recent meeting with Colorado Department of Transportation officials that it could cost $25,000 to $50,000 more.Two focuses of the study will be the possible implementation of so-called traffic-calming measures on Grand, and the possible relocation of Highway 82 onto the railroad right of way near the Roaring Fork River.However, the study is intended to consider how traffic flow can be improved through the entire Glenwood Springs transportation corridor. That means looking at things such as Midland Avenue, which already is used as an alternate route to Highway 82, said Skip Hudson, the planning and permitting engineer for CDOT Region 3.The study is likely to consider the south bridge project, which would extend Midland south to a new bridge across the Roaring Fork River. Congress this year committed $5 million to that project, but it could cost $12 million or more and the city has yet to identify other sources of funding.The study also is expected to take into account the potentially increased role bus transportation can play in reducing car traffic through Glenwood Springs.Hudson said he doesn’t see one silver bullet fixing the city’s traffic problems. Instead, it will take a combination of things, from mass transit to a workable state thoroughfare to city streets.The study follows release of results early this year from a survey that a consultant conducted for CDOT. Recording license plates by video on Grand and Midland, the survey found that one in three cars was passing through Glenwood Springs rather than just driving within town.The study also found that if traffic grows by 2.5 percent a year, traffic conditions could begin breaking down on Grand within a decade, with congestion reaching unacceptable levels for much of the day.Hudson said the corridor optimization study would identify pros and cons for a range of alternatives for addressing traffic problems. However, it would not identify a preferred alternative.That would be the job of a much more involved environmental impact statement, which could follow the optimization study and would include opportunities for public input on various alternatives. In recent years, the city has eyed the railroad right of way as a possible place to relocate Highway 82. The city is part of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, a consortium of local governments that owns the corridor. The city also has purchased property near the right of way that might be needed to relocate the highway.City Council has avoided specifically endorsing relocation of the highway to the right of way, however. For one thing, it is concerned that taking such a position would be inappropriate in advance of what is supposed to be an objective evaluation of alternatives during the environmental impact statement process.Council also faces pressure from some city residents who believe it would be wrong to give up the railroad right of way for a highway, and would rather see it preserved for its current use as a bike path or developed into a city street.As it stands, long-term answers to the city’s traffic problems could be at least two studies away. While Hudson knows that can be frustrating for some people wanting to see solutions sooner, it also should result in projects that have more buy-in from all interested stakeholders, he said.


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