Walk, don’t run, on wing street planning
“Wing Street” is not listed on any map of downtown Glenwood Springs. Nevertheless, it’s a street that is attracting much attention and its future may change the character of the city’s downtown.
The largely-debated little road juts off Grand Avenue between 8th and 7th streets. The wing street offers drivers a one-way route from Grand Avenue to 7th Street. Wing street’s sister street on the west side is now a pedestrian mall.
If done right, closing the wing street could improve downtown Glenwood.
Although there are many potential stumbling blocks and some hesitancy by downtown business owners, the city should take some steps forward.
The Downtown Development Authority is planning to seek approval to spend up to $20,000 in GID funds so design work can be completed on the proposed project. The city should approve the use of the funds for the DDA.
There is a long list of unanswered questions, and opponents of the closure have valid concerns.
First, there is no guarantee that the Colorado Department of Transportation will fund the ramp improvements or even approve the work. CDOT holds the right of way. If supporters have their way, the city would pick up the tab for road improvements and CDOT would foot the bill for the ramp.
Also, the Public Mall Act of 1970 has come into play. Property owners adjacent to the wing street will have the opportunity to voice a “yea” or “nay.” If the answer is “nay,” then the city will be forced to decide if the issue should be brought to a vote.
Opponents of the closure claim the west pedestrian mall is unkempt and the area underneath the bridge is grungy. They’re right. That space needs attention now and in the future.
Challenges aside, the project has long-term potential for a revitalized and pedestrian-friendly downtown.
Conceptual plans for the east wing street closure include the improvement and expansion of the dangerous pedestrian ramp and the creation of an open area in place of the current road.
The project could be timed in conjunction with the 2004 Grand Avenue Paving Project (GAPP). Other ideas include the relocation of the rest rooms from alongside the railroad to underneath the bridge and a new transit stop and/or visitor’s center under the bridge.
It would be a shame to come to a complete stop on this project, especially if CDOT offers funding and the majority of the downtown community supports it.
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