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Underpass coming to 27th Street and Highway 82

A bicyclist crosses 27th Street at the intersection of 27th and Glen Avenue while a car waits to turn left during the busy rush hour traffic on late Tuesday afternoon.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A pedestrian underpass could be coming to the intersection of 27th Street and Colorado Highway 82 in 2021.

The Glenwood Springs City Council voted last month to build an underpass at 27th Street and Highway 82 — and to commit $500,000 towards grants to pay for it.

Following nearly an hour-and-a-half of infrastructure discussions at the Aug. 20 meeting, city engineer Terri Partch prefaced her presentation by saying, “We do have some very important capital projects that are not maintenance needs. This is one of them.”

Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 Engineer Andrew Knapp said that 27th and Highway 82 is at the top of CDOT’s list for improving pedestrian safety.

“Understanding Highway 82 up and down the valley, this is probably the top priority for a separated grade pedestrian underpass since a lot of our other major intersections already have these facilities,” he said in a follow-up interview.

On June 3, 2018, Scott William Adams of Glenwood Springs was struck and killed crossing 27th Street by bicycle just before midnight.

Data provided by Elise Thatcher, CDOT Region 3 Communications Manager, shows that for 2015 through 2019, there were three other, non-fatal bike-auto accidents at the intersection.

There were no pedestrian-auto accidents reported for that five-year period.

Diagrams from the presentation show the underpass going under Highway 82 on the south side of the intersection, near the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Bus Rapid Transit stop, and meeting the Rio Grande Trail on the other side. The Rio Grande would then go under 27th Street to the northwest corner.

Partch said that RFTA is taking the lead on this project and has contributed $4.2 million from the Destination 2040 property tax measure.

CDOT has awarded three grants totaling $3.2 million, she said.

RFTA is asking the city for help with additional funding sources, Partch said. At the time those were matching grants from the state Department of Local Affairs and the Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District.

An artist’s rendering of the 27th Street underpass project showing the underpass going from the RFTA BRT station across Highway 82 to the Rio Grande Trail.
RFTA

“We’re being asked to essentially commit this evening to approximately $500,000 to leverage a $9 million project?” Mayor Jonathan Godes asked, with which Partch agreed.

City manager Debra Figueroa said, “It’s in the (Acquisitions & Improvements) draft budget, so it’s up to council whether you’re willing to commit to that.”

Godes then moved to approve the funding with Councilor Charlie Willman seconding, and the vote was unanimous in favor.

More recently, the city has decided to ask the Department of Local Affairs for a grant to help pay for a water line from the Roaring Fork pump station to the treatment plant, which will be discussed at the Sept. 17 City Council meeting.

The $500,000 is still committed to the underpass, but it would now go toward just the FMLD grant, Partch said in a follow-up interview.

The grant would provide $1 million in addition to the city’s $500,000, bringing the total committed to the project to $8.9 million. Partch said the total cost for the project is estimated to be $9 million to $10 million.

“The city will likely go after DOLA funding in the spring to reach the whole project estimate,” Partch said in an email.

There is no estimate available regarding how many people would likely use the underpass.

“Last winter peak season, prior to COVID becoming an issue, we had about 1,000-1,200 estimated average weekday and Saturday daily boardings and alightings at the 27th street BRT station,” David Johnson, RFTA director of planning, said in an email. While these riders could get on another bus, hop in their parked car, get picked up or exit via Blake Avenue instead of using the underpass, the numbers show how busy the bus station can be.

In addition, Johnson said the average number of people crossing the Rio Grande counter from January to July 2020 was 102 per day.

Before it approved funding, council was tasked with deciding whether an underpass or overpass would be best for that intersection. Partch said the city Transportation Commission voted unanimously on the underpass for access and aesthetic reasons.

Councilor Paula Stepp asked what kind of effect underpass construction would have on traffic.

Partch said it would cause “significant disruption.” 

She also said that the city would work with contractors of this project and the South Midland reconstruction project to assure that traffic impacts would not occur at the same time. Partch said the bulk of the South Midland project would be done in 2021, while the bulk of the underpass work would be done in 2022.

Councilor Rick Voorhees asked if the underpass design includes bike access.

“I would advocate for a ramp adjacent to stairs,” Partch replied.

Councilor Steve Davis made a motion to build an underpass, Councilor Shelley Kaup seconded it, and the vote was unanimous in favor.

cwertheim@postindependent.com


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