Focus now on 2 Grand Ave. Bridge alternatives | AspenTimes.com

Focus now on 2 Grand Ave. Bridge alternatives

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Transportation planners have narrowed their focus down to two basic alignment alternatives for replacing the Grand Avenue Bridge on state Highway 82 in Glenwood Springs.

New in the evaluation process are also some different variations for local traffic connections north of the Colorado River and Interstate 70 to Sixth Street, as well as some options for accommodating pedestrians and bicycles.

After the latest round of public input, and in followup conversations with local stakeholder groups and elected officials, two alternatives rose to the top, said project manager and consulting engineer Craig Gaskill.

They are Alternative 1, which would maintain the existing bridge alignment from Grand Avenue on the south to the intersection of Sixth Street and Pine, and Alternative 3, which would veer the bridge west to the area of Sixth and Laurel.

“We decided it was best to spend time improving those two alternatives, instead of carrying the other two along,” Gaskill said.

The other options would have involved two one-way bridges, rather than one four-lane bridge. One option would have brought southbound Highway 82 traffic onto Colorado Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs.

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The remaining CDOT alternatives will now be further evaluated by project planners, local officials and, continuing Wednesday and Thursday, by an independent peer review panel, Gaskill said.

A handful of different bridge options presented by various citizens who have been involved in the process are also still going through a formal screening process, he said.

The peer review is something not normally seen at this stage of the environmental assessment process, Gaskill said.

“It’s a step not typically taken until a major project is in its design stage,” he said. “But we felt it was important to have this review now on such a critical project.

“The review is intended to confirm that the right decisions are being made, that the right solutions are being developed, and whether we’ve missed anything,” Gaskill said.

The peer review panel includes noted bridge architect Fred Gottmoeller, who attended one of the early project working group meetings to offer some input. But he otherwise has not been directly involved in the Grand Avenue Bridge project, Gaskill said.

Also included on the panel are two bridge engineers from the region, a CDOT traffic engineer, a construction manager and the newly hired Glenwood Springs city engineer, Terri Partch.

Meanwhile, new in the evaluation process for Alternative 1 would be an option to remove the existing separated pedestrian bridge, and instead build a pedestrian/bikeway as part of the new bridge structure.

Having a single span, as opposed to two, side-by-side structures, could benefit the aesthetic design for the new bridge, Gaskill said.

“We still want to have pedestrians and bicycles separated from traffic, which can be done within the same structure,” he said.

It’s also possible that pedestrians and bikes could travel on a grade below the traffic lanes, so that they are not running alongside cars and trucks, Gaskill said.

The most substantial new design variations have to do with Alternative 3. It now includes three different options for a main intersection near Sixth and Laurel leading to the Interstate 70 interchange, as well as some different local connections back to the Sixth Street business district.

One option would include a “T” intersection on the bridge itself that would take local traffic to Sixth and Pine along the current alignment above the Hot Springs parking lot. Highway 82 traffic bound to and from I-70 would travel through a signalized intersection just south of Sixth and Laurel.

Called Alternative 3-D, it would require partial acquisition of the Shell gas station property at Sixth and Laurel. The business would lose its southern access from River Road, as well as direct Highway 82 and I-70 traffic.

Two of the intersection options would require full acquisition of the gas station and the adjacent property, which now houses the Glenwood Canyon Activities walk-up center.

Alternative 3-A would include a roundabout for local traffic at Sixth and Laurel, and a sidewalk/path attached to the new bridge.

Alternative 3-E would have a series of traffic signals for local connections and access to I-70 from the area at Sixth and Laurel.

All of those options are designed to create a more pedestrian-oriented and local street feel to the Sixth Street businesses, while preserving access from Highway 82, Gaskill said.

Numerous other alternatives have been considered by project planners to date, including alternate routes, a downtown bypass, rehabilitating the existing bridge and other alignment variations, CDOT Program Engineer Joe Elsen noted in a press release announcing the new design options.

Most of those have been screened and taken off the table for different reasons, he said.

“It’s taken a lot of work and public input to get to where we are,” Elsen said. “Every time there have been new or revised alternatives, or alternatives have been screened out, it has followed substantial stakeholder input and evaluation.”

jstroud@postindependent.com

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