PI Editorial: Is it time to try something different with Grand Avenue?

Post Independent Editorial Board

More than merely persisting, traffic congestion continues to worsen along Grand Avenue and the Colorado Highway 82 corridor through Glenwood Springs.

For residents and visitors alike, every day seems to bring its own harried close call, road rager or mysterious car crawl (not to mention the not-so-mysterious rush hours backup).

The good news is that many residents through Imagine Glenwood have been working to alleviate the problem for many years now with their “Slow Down in Town” campaign. Recently, they made a push to remind people of the need to drive the speed limit — and practice safe driving habits generally — with the return of students to the classroom.

One of the most impactful reminders they provide is just how little time someone saves by speeding through Glenwood Springs. According to their estimates, going 35 MPH through town shaves a mere minute off of a person’s total drive time. And frankly, that minute saved is good for nothing when it’s traded for increased risk of a collision or ticket.

Imagine Glenwood’s “Slow Down in Town” campaign is an incredible effort and we know it helps. What concerns us, however, is that the problem seems to be growing exponentially as residents who work on the Aspen end of the Roaring Fork Valley are pushed further away from their place of work due to rising housing costs. Add in a steady stream of visitors to the area who don’t know the roads and it can be a volatile mix — not just through Glenwood Springs but all the way down to Aspen.

The results? Not great — recent traffic stats provided to Glenwood Springs City Council show that our community generally has worse averages for collisions than the state and comparably sized cities. Perhaps of greatest concern is the higher-than-average risk to pedestrians and cyclists. All of this goes to show that we can and should be paying more attention to Imagine Glenwood’s campaign — and help keep ourselves and our neighbors safe on our roads.

In addition to that, we’re intrigued to see what the city of Glenwood Springs and Colorado Department of Transportation could think of for possible engineering remedies. Much of the conversation earlier this month with city council focused on tools to slow traffic down. That was met with skepticism by some, but “traffic calming” engineering has been proven to work in other communities. Think of motorists while driving through Glenwood Canyon. Despite the twists and turns, many choose to go faster than the speed limit, until they hit a tunnel. Then, more often than not, they’ll actually go slower than the speed limit. That’s because the road feels more dangerous, even as sharp curves generally end up being where many wrecks occur. 

Now, we’re not advocating for encasing Highway 82 in a tunnel through Glenwood Springs, but building out medians, wider sidewalks, raised crosswalks and other infrastructure could indeed help make it easier to follow Imagine Glenwood’s timelessly good advice: Slow Down in Town.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Darcy Carstens, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

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