Glenwood agrees to fund bridge study | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood agrees to fund bridge study

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Glenwood Springs held the course on its decision to contribute up to $200,000 toward study of a proposed south bridge project.

City Council members raised some concerns about whether or not spending the money on an environmental assessment was necessary or totally worthwhile.

“I’m having a hard time supporting $200,000 for our portion of the study,” council member Larry Beckwith said during a council meeting Thursday night.

He said he’s not opposed to the idea of a south bridge. But the assessment would lead to additional studies and consultant fees and might not accomplish anything, he added, like in the case of the “so-called relocation of Highway 82.”

The city and Garfield County have each agreed to offer up to $200,000 for the study. It would cost around $2 million with about 80 percent funded by federal Transportation Reauthorization Act money.

City manager Jeff Hecksel said the $2 million figure came from the state for planning purposes and represents the upper end of what the study could cost.

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“In terms of using other people’s money to move this along, we’re doing quite well,” he joked.

The study is a first step toward building a new crossing of the Roaring Fork River in the southern part of Glenwood Springs. The bridge would ease traffic congestion by connecting the Four Mile Road/Midland Avenue corridor to Highway 82.

Other council members also had concerns about the amount being spent on a study, but ultimately decided to move forward with the process.

“We have to do those studies whether we like it or not,” council member Joe O’Donnell said. “Probably money could be spent otherwise, but if we don’t do this environmental assessment we’ll never get this done.”

“I am frankly at a loss on how we would spend $2 million on just an environmental assessment for the south bridge,” council member Dave Merritt said.

The project could raise questions about the municipal airport. The city will at some point face the decision of whether or not to spend an estimated $500,000 to $1 million on the municipal airport runway. It’s expected to need re-paving within five to seven years.

In an interview Friday, Hecksel said some preliminary engineering work was done in the past suggesting a few locations for the bridge. He thought the airport issue might be coming up with the south bridge project because some of those preliminary locations involved the airport. But he expects that the environmental assessment would identify a preferred alternative location, which may or may not involve the airport.

“Probably what will happen is the environmental assessment will be done long before there’s any discussion about the airport runway,” he said.

Beckwith cast the lone vote against a motion finalizing the agreement to contribute funding. Council member Chris McGovern was absent.

“There are things that we have to do in order to get this thing built,” mayor Bruce Christensen said. “It is a very important project to the community and I don’t think it would be responsible on our part to let it die because we don’t want to take the next step.”

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