Transportation group agrees to fund bike/pedestrian, I-70 exit projects |

Transportation group agrees to fund bike/pedestrian, I-70 exit projects

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Two Glenwood Springs-area bike and pedestrian projects and the city’s main Interstate 70 interchange won approval for a total of nearly $1 million in new funding Thursday.The Intermountain Regional Planning Commission (IRPC), meeting in Glenwood Springs, approved contributing $200,000 toward an effort to build a trail from West Glenwood to South Canyon.The group also approved a $192,000 contribution toward building a bike/pedestrian bridge over I-70 adjacent to the Devereux Road bridge near Two Rivers Park. Mike McDill, city engineer for Glenwood Springs, said that figure includes a required 20 percent matching local contribution.The commission, made up of government representatives from Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, Lake and Summit counties, also agreed to contribute $600,000 toward continuing efforts to make improvements at the Exit 116 interchange in Glenwood Springs, where traffic now backs up onto I-70.In addition, it committed $513,000 to the Roaring Fork Transit Agency’s bus rapid transit program, which seeks to use new technologies and approaches to make bus service faster and a more attractive alternative to driving.The commission’s decisions require ratification by the state Transportation Commission. But the funds are available for the projects approved Thursday, and in such cases the state panel generally follows the wishes of its regional advisory groups regarding their transportation funding priorities, said IRPC member Brian Pettet, director of public works for Pitkin County.Several of the allocations the group made Thursday involved transportation enhancement grants, which are used for such purposes as pedestrian and bicycle facilities, landscaping and scenic beautification, and historic preservation. The group used the grants to commit $350,000 toward rehabilitation of the coke ovens along Highway 133 in Redstone, $41,750 for compost blankets to be used for landscape restoration on Independence Pass, and $373,750 for a trail connection in the Dowd Junction/Minturn area in Eagle County.All require the minimum 20 percent local matching grant.The South Canyon funding will go toward the continuing effort by the nonprofit Lower Valley Trails Group (LoVa) to build a trail through an area west of Glenwood Springs where cyclists now are forced to travel on I-70.”That is a nasty stretch to ride. Exciting, but nasty,” said Mick Ireland, IRPC chairman and Aspen’s mayor, and an avid cyclist.McDill said the total cost of the Devereux project is about $1 million. Thursday’s funds, combined with a federal grant, mean the city has received grant commitments of about $300,000 for the project. He said the city has budgeted money next year to cover the remainder of the cost, but he’s planning to apply for more grants, in hopes of freeing up some of those funds for other pressing city street projects.McDill said he learned a few weeks ago that the Colorado Department of Transportation had budgeted the new funding for the project for 2011. That would have created a problem because the city would have been expected to use the federal grant sooner than that. However, CDOT managed to shift the funding forward to next year.The additional Exit 116 money will be used for continuing design work to reduce congestion at that interchange, said Joe Elsen, the CDOT program engineer based in Glenwood Springs.Just this week, CDOT installed traffic signals at the eastbound off- and on-ramps of the interchange in hopes of easing off-ramp backups onto I-70 by eastbound travelers during morning rush hour.The agency also is looking at adding double turn lanes to help those commuters as they turn onto Grand Avenue a few blocks away, and as they head onto the westbound I-70 on-ramp during their trips back home in the evening.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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