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Glenwood studies options for Hwy. 82

Pete FowlerGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Rush-hour traffic files over the Grand Avenue bridge Thursday evening in Glenwood Springs. The city is working with Garfield County, the Colorado Department of Transportation and an engineering firm on options for dealing with Highway 82 traffic in the city. (Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent)
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS Floyd Diemoz has thought about an alternative for Highway 82 traffic since 1973.In those 35 years, hes counted 11 studies addressing relocation of Highway 82 traffic. Diemoz, of the Diemoz Construction Company, is a Glenwood native whos on the Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission.Here we are in 2008 and it still hasnt happened, he said.But the next phase of a corridor optimization study should narrow 22 alternative routes for Highway 82 traffic down to the best two or three options by next fall, said city engineer Mike McDill. Then, the options would go through the National Environmental Protection Act process, which should take about another year and lead to action.Diemoz is disappointed Glenwood Springs never decided on a route and kept it available. Even if the money wasnt there at the time, he said, a plan could have been made for the future. For example, homes being built on Midland Avenue prevented that route from becoming an alternative, Diemoz said, though some believe Midland is still the best choice.The city has made other decisions when probably the major decision that should have been made for the future of Glenwood Springs is, What are we going to do on Highway 82? Diemoz said.Highway 82 is also Grand Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs, carrying commuter and local traffic through its original commercial core.On Wednesday, Glenwood Springs got back a signed copy of a $93,543 contract with PBS&J to work on a corridor optimization plan, McDill said. PBS&J is an engineering firm with a national presence.The contract for the plan follows a $186,772 corridor optimization study by the same company that identified 22 alternatives from changing timing on traffic lights on Highway 82 to tunneling a costly new route east of town. Several alternatives look at using the railroad right of way corridor on the east side of the Roaring Fork River, although some people dont want to see a road near the riverfront.The study also identified Midland Avenue and a proposed south bridge project as potential pieces of a solution. The south bridge would create a new crossing over the Roaring Fork River somewhere in the southern part of the city.McDill said the corridor optimization plan, unlike the previous studies, will help lead the city to a groundbreaking decision about what to do with Highway 82 traffic through downtown. The spot currently sees around 30,000 vehicles per day, McDill estimated.He said most of the previous studies only tried to prove one option was right. The city, Garfield County and the Colorado Department of Transportation are all participating in the corridor optimization plan, which also wasnt the case for previous studies, McDill said.I would have to hope that there is hope, Diemoz said. But history says that that may be optimistic to assume that were going to solve this problem very soon.He believes solving the problem could be just deciding on a route and protecting it.Its a slow process, and its intended to be slow to make sure that nobody gets left behind in the process, McDill said. What were really trying to do is make sure that we have all the options covered.Diemoz sees just one real option, even though some say it would reduce the aesthetics of the Roaring Fork River. Its clear which plan he likes from the large drawing of the railroad corridor option by the river winding across a wall of his office. Midland would have been the best choice, he said, but it cant reasonably be done with all the homes now populating it.In my view its either destroy downtown Glenwood Springs or affect the aesthetics of the river, he said.He emphasized that he is hopeful a decision will be made and said he believes the current city councilors understand the seriousness of the problem.pfowler@postindependent.com


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