The new bridge is just what we need |

The new bridge is just what we need

Mike Bennett
Staff Photo |

Glenwood bridge is coming down, coming down, coming down

Glenwood bridge is coming down,

No more bypass!

Who enjoys sitting in their car being behind an 18-wheeler with another 18-wheeler coming in the opposite direction as the bridge bobs above the river?

The state of Colorado is planning to invest $99 million right here in Glenwood Springs to replace an aging, too-narrow bridge. The project could lead to a growth spurt for our downtown.

A vocal minority in Garfield County, including many of my friends, vehemently disagrees with my belief that the planned bridge, regardless of our preferred aesthetic qualities, will be a very good thing for our downtown. They are willing to tell the state to go ahead and shove their millions where the sun doesn’t shine.

Taking all of the traffic that cares to whiz through Glenwood Springs off of Sixth Street and turning it into a viable two-lane pedestrian-friendly area leading to the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and the new pedestrian bridge is a good thing. The Lost Cajun Restaurant, Smoke and very soon the Grind all have had the foresight to locate their establishments under the bridge. What were they thinking? My guess is they were thinking that the extended block of the pedestrian-friendly portion of Grand Avenue, where visitors and locals alike will congregate, will be good for their businesses.

I for one am very excited about the prospects. The city stepped forward with the Seventh Street project and we have seen the boon to the Riviera, Juicy Lucy’s, the Pullman and the Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub, which now all offer dining on the sidewalk. It truly adds to the ambiance for our downtown. And it adds much needed tax revenue to our fair city.

Would most of us like to see a bypass that would allow us to enjoy a conversation on Grand Avenue with out having to say, “What did you say?” a half-dozen times as trucks rumble by? Of course we would.

Carl Moak, owner of Summit Canyon Mountaineering, summed that prospect up well in a story we ran last week when he said the fight over the bridge would be like a “pillow fight” compared to one over the location of a bypass. That, along with the extremely high expense, makes a bypass an extreme long shot, at least anytime soon.

No doubt, the projected three months of bridge closure will be painful. The long-term gain for all of us will be well worth it.

Just for full disclosure, I both live and work in the heart of downtown Glenwood Springs. I won’t be inconvenienced more than a half dozen times during the bridge work. And I will personally benefit by being able to live and work in a more robust downtown.

Some people are concerned about increased speed on a new, wider bridge. I am confident that Glenwood Chief of Police Terry Wilson will be able to maintain the peace and that speeding tickets his officers will issue will provide bonus revenue for the city if the new bridge causes drivers to have the misconception that Grand Avenue has turned into an expressway.

The new bridge and the accompanying downtown projects are just the shot in the arm Glenwood Springs needs to create an improved environment for those that live or vacation in our fine area. What is the alternative? I guess we can fight the project, lose the state’s $99 million and keep the status quo. We can continue to dream that a bypass will be built through one of our neighborhoods in the next five years and all will be well with the world. If you believe that will happen, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell to you at a fair price.

Michael Bennett is publisher of the Post Independent.

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