Prosence: Keep the old bridge

Dick Prosence

Dan Blankenship wrote an excellent guest opinion published April 5 that clarified some issues regarding using the railroad corridor for a relocated SH82. Apparently, the only issue should be railbanking of the entire old railroad right of way. This is not a problem for that portion in town since the design I prepared on my dining room table in Phoenix about 10 years ago (call it “alternative Z”) provided space for railroad tracks. Don correctly points out that much of the history of old discussions and decisions is no longer in the memory of many people.

By digging through my scrapbooks of news clippings, I found these other dates of significance lost to the memory of many now involved in discussions about SH82:

Nov. 16, 1979. Centennial Engineering presented its report of feasible alternatives for a new route through the city, which came to the conclusion that the best route was up the railroad corridor adjacent to the railroad. At that time the railroad was using the tracks to haul coal from Carbondale. This study was funded by the city.

May 23, 1980. The route study recommendation was approved by City Council, and the State Highway Commission was asked to include funds for the project in its annual budget. Unfortunately, funding was very limited, so that request was never honored.

Oct. 7, 1992. The railroad announced the abandonment of the Aspen branch.

Sept. 15, 1993. Since the railroad had announced that it was abandoning the Aspen branch, I wrote to council and urged members to gain ownership of the railroad right of way for future relocation of SH82 (not a bypass).

Since then, I have urged Council many times to fund a study of the segment from the confluence to 23rd Street so that a better cost of the relocation would be available for discussions. Currently all sorts of wild figures are being throw out. Of course, as Floyd Diemoz pointed out, the leadership of the city must make up its mind.

All of the cost and complications of elevators, tearing down a perfectly good pedestrian bridge and spending a lot of money building a new one very close to the location of the old one, buying expensive property, disrupting traffic flow in and out of town for months, damaging the fishery in the Roaring Fork and the Colorado rivers, and condemning Grand Avenue (Glenwood Springs’ boulevard) to city-destroying traffic volumes when the railroad corridor is simple and practically a straight shot.

I strongly recommend keeping the old bridge (with some maintenance and repair) and begin harassing the Transportation Commission to solve the real problem in the city, which is reducing the traffic on Grand Avenue.

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