Time to relocate Highway 82
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Also addressed to Glenwood Springs City Council
I’d like to share with our new council members some Highway 82 history that I’ve imparted over the many years to previous councils. I believe I’m correct in recalling the night Bob Zanella was first sworn in as mayor, some 15 years ago. I had asked council to place a sign on the far wall as a continual reminder of Glenwood’s most critical problem. It was to be in red glowing neon. It was to read “Grand Ave. Traffic.” At that time I should have purchased and placed that neon in council chambers.
On Dec. 6, 1973 (nearly 36 years ago), City Council adopted the following:
“It is the intention of the city to designate Midland Avenue as an arterial street pursuant to Chapter 120, Section 13, Paragraph 25, CRS 1963, for the purposes of providing identifiable corridor or route of designation for the investigation and study of a possible bypass for state Highway 82.”
Why did council exhibit this foresight so many years ago? They knew the ever-increasing buildup of Grand Avenue traffic would eventually destroy the viability of our downtown and community. They knew that even if they immediately finalized a plan for the relocation it could take 20 or more years to complete.
The city, in an Oct. 9, 2003, letter commenting on RFTA’s corridor investment study, made an excellent point that any transit solution to the Roaring Fork Valley will be flawed unless congestion on Grand Avenue is relieved.
I quote a sentence that says it all: “The implementation of a Bus Rapid Transit program must include relocation of Highway 82 as a visible plan.”
They point out it is not only a matter of traffic movement, it is a matter of the quality of life, health and safety for the residents of Glenwood Springs. Hopefully council will not disregard this critical point made six years ago.
Some of our citizens believe the four lanes of Highway 82 must remain on Grand Avenue as an appropriate tradeoff to save the existing rail corridor. A possible solution by our former CDOT district engineer, Dick Prosence, allows for multiple use on that corridor, saving much of the river’s edge. It provides for a hiker/biker path, Highway 82 and, if it becomes economical, light rail.
Our dilemma affects far more than businesses on Grand Avenue. It affects the citizens of all our valley’s communities from Aspen to Parachute. Those people must also travel through our town to go to and from work, business or play. It affects families from children to the elderly who must everyday cross this highway. Never forget: Grand Avenue is not a street or an avenue, it is a major highway.
With each passing year the uncontrollable severing of our community adds to the eventual total destruction of downtown. Isn’t 36 years enough time for council to adopt a plan for the relocation of Colorado State Highway 82?
Floyd Diemoz is a longtime Glenwood Springs resident, a former member of the city’s Transportation Commission and a former member of the citizens’ advisory committee on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.
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