PI Editorial: Despite recent setbacks, let’s not lose sight of a south escape route for Glenwood Springs | PostIndependent.com

PI Editorial: Despite recent setbacks, let’s not lose sight of a south escape route for Glenwood Springs

Post Independent Editorial Board

Recently the challenges have mounted against making another bridge connecting south Glenwood Springs to the Colorado Highway 82 corridor.

While the Glenwood Springs City Council voted earlier this year for a tunnel option, it’s still unclear what the overall capital costs — not to mention upkeep — will be. But regardless of any uncertainty with that approach, the biggest setback came after FEMA denied Glenwood Springs’ grant application for nearly $30 million in project funding.

So what comes next? It’s difficult to predict, but we would encourage all of our elected officials with an interest in this project to keep their focus on making a south connector reality.

Thousands of people who live in Glenwood Springs and/or unincorporated Garfield County currently have just one paved option for getting to and from home: South Midland Avenue. While the city project to improve South Midland continues and is on track to be finished in 2022, that project alone is unlikely to alleviate the traffic pressures within the area.

But it’s not just south Glenwood that’s impacted. Bottlenecked traffic can often extend to the intersection of 27th Street and Highway 82, further snarling the Roaring Fork Valley’s main traffic artery.

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Perhaps more concerning than traffic is the risk of residents becoming trapped during a fire within south Glenwood. We won’t say a major fire is bound to happen, but the fact is we live in an ever-drying West (current rains notwithstanding). The risk for a fire is definitely there — and if Midland Avenue were to be blocked, the only other egress from South Glenwood Springs is Dry Park Road, a gravel road not meant for the hundreds of vehicles that would rely upon it in such circumstances.

In other words, a south escape route is vital for everyone who calls the valley home.

We’re encouraged by Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes’ vow to work with Garfield County commissioners and Colorado’s congressional delegation in seeking an alternative funding source for the escape route.

Keep at it, mayor. We know it won’t be an easy lift to make a southern escape route a reality, but we can’t think of a project more likely to improve the flow of traffic and safety of the residents through our community for years to come.

And for our county commissioners and congressional delegation: This is something that is important not just to Glenwood Springs residents. Numerous people who live on Three Mile, Four Mile and other unincorporated communities would greatly benefit from seeing the south bridge escape route become a reality. In other words, this isn’t just a city issue.

By working together on funding and planning, we’ll get the best result for our entire community. Let’s make an escape route for South Glenwood and our residents a reality.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Amy Connerton and Karl Oelke.

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