Sundin column: Sayonara, a parting shot for my final PI column

Hal Sundin
As I See It

This will be my 500th column — my final column in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

A little information about me: I was born on April 2, 1926, and grew up in Jamestown, New York, graduating from high school in 1943. This makes me more than 95 years old — time to quit writing newspaper columns.

I was fortunate to be the right age and qualify (both competitively and physically) for the initial year of the U.S. Navy V-12 Program, which was a college engineering education sponsored by the Navy. So one week after graduation from high school, I was in the U.S. Navy and embarked on a three-semester-a-year civil engineering program at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, from which I graduated with a bachelor’s degree a month and a half before my 20th birthday.

I continued my engineering education, getting master’s degrees in structural and sanitary (environmental) engineering and a PhD. I thought about a college teaching career, but, though I enjoyed teaching, I gave that up when I was exposed to the politics that went with it. Instead, I joined a small sanitary engineering firm near Chicago that grew to over 80 when I retired as president in 1988 and retired to Glenwood Springs in time to be a charter member of the 100 Club in 1990.

My working career involved writing engineering reports for village boards and city councils educating them in engineering concepts in wastewater collection and treatment. Then, as a resident of Glenwood Springs, I served on the Transportation Commission for 12 years, becoming involved in transportation issues.

I started writing letters to the editor of the Glenwood Post. Then one day early in 1998 I got a call from (former editor) Dennis Webb asking if I would be interested in writing an opinion column for the newspaper. That sounded like a great opportunity, especially since it paid $50 per column and would appear every other week. Both of those conditions have changed — publication to twice and then once a month, and the $50 per column became $25, and then disappeared.

I enjoyed the opportunity to express my opinions, so I have continued writing, and have welcomed reader comments, both pro and con. But now I have found that it takes a lot more time and effort than it used to, so I am retiring from the job.

Going back to my first two columns, March 7 and 23, 1998, the first was for collusion in price-fixing the cost of gasoline, for which the dealers had already received a wrap on the knuckles from state authorities.

The second recommended planning for a bypass route to get through-traffic off Grand Avenue. The city council members, who were largely local business owners, wanted the traffic to continue coming in front of their businesses and parking to do business, so they did everything possible to maintain the status quo. The Colorado Department of Transportation, which had made future traffic forecasts and could see what was coming, probably said, “You want that traffic coming by your businesses, by golly, you’re going to get it.”

Now, Grand Avenue traffic is a nightmare at almost any time of the day and especially during morning and evening rush hours (and getting worse by leaps and bounds). And you guessed it: Now fewer people even try to park in front of and shop in downtown businesses in the Grand Avenue congestion, which must now be adversely impacting those businesses. And it is only going to get worse as more people continue to move into the area, until Glenwood Springs will become known as “gridlock city.” Even CDOT’s representative in Glenwood Springs, Dick Prosence — plus Floyd Diemoz, John Haines and I — could see and preached the need for a bypass route along Midland Avenue and the railroad corridor but to no avail.

Instead, the city council went ahead with what we got without filing an Environmental Impact Statement, which would have required an examination of future traffic needs.

Sam Skramstad was an exception. When he was mayor, he set about acquiring the additional property along the D&RG right of way needed to provide a minimum width of 100 feet through the city, which would provide space for a four-lane highway, with ingress and egress, plus pedestrian and bicycle paths.

You ask, “What about space for a rapid-transit railroad?” Rapid-transit rail has been proven to be financially feasible only if it serves a population of at least 250,000, which is far more than the Roaring Fork Valley will ever see.

Hal Sundin’s “As I See It” has appeared in the pages of the Glenwood Post and Post Independent since 1998, and online since the early days of the newspaper’s internet presence. Hal continues to live in Glenwood Springs. Contact him at

Extra editor’s note: It has been a pleasure to host Hal’s column all these years. Enjoy retirement, and keep that critical eye open, Hal.

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