Publisher’s column: Detours en route to providing you with bridge info
Last Thursday I attended a meeting to brainstorm how to mitigate issues the Grand Avenue bridge project will create. The overarching message is that while there will be periods of inconvenience, we must all stay positive, knowing that negativity only exacerbates the situation. The end result will be positive for all concerned.
Since then I’ve personally had two negative project-related experiences, none of which involved getting stuck in traffic.
I take my role as publisher very personally and expect the newspaper I represent to provide complete and accurate information. We fell short twice, once through omission and once because project leaders didn’t communicate updated information.
In the first instance, our story in Friday’s paper about that Thursday meeting was accurate and captured the spirit of the conversation — but it didn’t include details I presented about the PI’s plan to disseminate bridge information.
The PI is going to take a major role in providing you all of the information you need to live as positively as possible through the next two years of bridge work. We will provide that information on a variety of platforms, including our printed newspaper and website, Facebook and Twitter.
We have created a special page for bridge coverage, postindependent.com/bridge. Fairly soon, you will be able to participate in our coverage via a live social media feed. We think readers will have real-time updates and photos as you navigate through the detours and traffic.
Acting City Manager Drew Gorgey is working to find additional parking throughout our town, and we will keep you up to date as these precious spots are designated.
A key point here is that it is important for you to know that you can count on us to be your source of anything related to Grand Avenue bridge construction. We will provide both news and commentary, such as Monday’s editorial about the upsides of the project — and we will monitor problems and progress, as is also our role.
As an example of our commitment to covering this project, on Monday we prominently played John Stroud’s story regarding the first real challenges of construction we will face, with two lanes of the bridge scheduled to be closed for part of four days starting Monday.
When Stroud went out to check on traffic early in the scheduled closure, much to his amazement, all four lanes were open.
This made it look like the PI had no idea what was happening just down the block from our offices. And that really burned me. We work very hard to provide fair, accurate and timely reporting. Think about all of the words we write every day. That’s one hell of a challenge yet it is a goal we strive to hit every day.
Our hope was that by providing you information about the lane closure, you would have a chance to be proactive and take another route. Learning alternatives early in the project will help in our effort to reduce traffic by at least 20 percent on Grand Avenue during the bridge closure in 2017.
We have roughly 40,000 readers each day between our paper and website, and we let you down.
In this particular case, Tom Newland, whose firm has been contracted by CDOT to be the outlet for all information regarding the project, gave us the lane closure story last Thursday. And as will happen in construction, plans changed. Unfortunately, Newland didn’t update us Monday morning.
We have addressed this issue and have been given reassurance from Newland that he will make certain going forward that we are made aware of any changes in plans. He has been given the secret 24/7 phone number.
Moving on, we are fully aware that the bridge construction will create headaches for all of us over the next two years. We encourage to everyone to stay positive and be proactive in finding alternatives to getting caught in traffic.
Tourism is a big driver of income and jobs for Glenwood Springs. We all need tourists to come and enjoy the amenities and natural beauty that we all have at our doorsteps. All of us hope to be able to commute, shop and travel through our area with as few challenges as possible.
Together we can make a tough situation a bit better, and maybe even fun. Many large employers such as Colorado Mountain College have begun making adjustments in schedules to try to keep as many people as possible off of Grand Avenue during rush hour. We are all encouraged to carpool, walk, run or bike to work if at all possible.
The Glenwood Hot Springs will face as great a challenge as any business. CEO and President Kjell Mitchell has been proactively working to make the Hot Springs customer experience as good as possible. Think about their guest parking challenge. The Hot Springs bought the old Bighorn Toyota lot and will provide a shuttle service that will both reduce traffic and provide convenience.
Personally, I will be working with the downtown businesses and the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association to brainstorm ideas, fun events and offers to encourage all of you to support our downtown businesses and restaurants during the construction. We need a healthy downtown, and you can help.
Folks, this will not be an easy two years in downtown Glenwood Springs. Together, if we are positive, proactive and creative, we can indeed make lemonade from the lemons we have been handed.
Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.
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