Glenwood council to discuss future of South Bridge | AspenTimes.com

Glenwood council to discuss future of South Bridge

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs City Council will discuss how to proceed with the controversial South Bridge Project at a special meeting Thursday.

The council has scheduled a 4:30 p.m. work session to review possible options with Jacob’s Engineering, the firm that received a contract for the $1.2 million planning project. The firm has completed about $840,000 worth of work on the planning so far.

According to a document posted on the city’s website regarding the meeting, “Only one option includes an environmental assessment as originally scoped.” The document notes all other options follow the direction provided by the Joint Elected Officials Special Meeting on Nov. 5, where the Glenwood City Council voted against moving forward with the environmental assessment altogether, and the Board of County Commissioners voted to recommend that council stop the assessment as well.

According to the document, the Project Working Group concluded the consultant should develop a list of options on how to complete the study given the county’s and City Council’s decisions in November not to move forward with the assessment. The working group identified six options for completing the study.

An option to move forward with the environmental assessment remains, but is noted that it would not be “consistent” with what both the county and council recommended in November.

Another option recommends stopping the South Bridge project “in favor of beginning a more comprehensive regional or area transportation plan,” the document reads. This comprehensive regional transportation study would ultimately be a restart on the entire project, and would identify existing and future transportation problems and solutions for the region, not only emergency and local access for southern areas of Glenwood Springs.

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Another option included stopping all work on the project immediately. While that option would not incur extra costs to the city, the engineers noted that it “wastes most of the effort already put into the study by the Community Advisory Group, the PWG, other interested parties, and the elected officials.”

Other options include compiling the existing, to-date data, and provide that to the city for future reference; or developing an Environmental Overview Study, which would look at the project as a bypass rather than emergency and local access.

“While the purpose and need for the NEPA document did not address bypass traffic for regional traffic, many have expressed that this project will – in fact – act as a bypass, and should be evaluated as a bypass or be planned for how it will function like a bypass,” the document reads.

This additional detail on these traffic issues would provide a better understanding of the South Bridge alternatives and allow for a better understanding of the bypass issue for future transportation planning in the area,” the document continued.

Some of the options could require supplemental funding from the city, but most of the options would be covered under the existing $1.2 million contract. Completion times vary from anywhere between one month to two years.

The South Bridge Project was originally created as a way to provide a critical second southern route connecting Highway 82 and the western side of the Roaring Fork River with the South Glenwood Springs neighborhoods. The original need and purpose of the project was stated to be for “emergency evacuation and emergency access” and “local land use access.”

However, the project received much resistance from residents in the Cardiff Glen and Park West subdivisions, which would be impacted the most with the inclusion of the bridge near their neighborhoods.

Close to two years of planning went into the project, whittling down several options to three, including Option 5 near the old Cardiff Bridge, the Under Airport alternative, and another alternative that would have taken motorists around the south end of the municipal airport. Those three were to be included in an environmental assessment that was put on hold after the county commissioners and City Council voted not to move forward with the assessment at a joint work session in early November.

Both meetings will be held in City Council chambers, located in City Hall, at 101 W. Eighth St., Glenwood Springs.

jgardner@postindependent.com

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