Hwy. 82 debate rolls on in Glenwood
GLENWOOD SPRINGS Dick Prosence drove the 70 miles from Meeker just to get the latest on the future of Highway 82. The east river corridor is as close as anything to the correct solution, he said, speaking at an open house Wednesday night. The purpose was to share information and gather comment on the latest Highway 82 study. Prosence was a district engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation for 13 years. He favors building an alternative route for Highway 82 traffic downtown on the east side of the Roaring Fork River. Some think thats the spot to move traffic currently traveling on Grand Avenue, which they believe hurts downtown and will only get worse. Others think thats a terrible idea that wont do anything but destroy the aesthetics of the river. Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the PBS&J engineering firm answered questions and had set up boards explaining alternatives being considered, timelines and information about the corridor optimization plan. The plan is designed to narrow down 22 alternatives from a corridor optimization study to three or four options by the fall. Those would next be reviewed for about another year under the National Environmental Protection Act process. The 22 alternatives ranged from changing the timing of traffic lights on Grand Avenue to building a $600 million partially tunneled route on the east side of town. Its a very comprehensive study, but its a rehash of things going on for 30 years, Prosence said, adding that he believes there might not be funding to actually get anything accomplished. Traffic through Glenwood Springs has been a concern since at least 1973. Garfield County Commissioner John Martin said the first study he saw addressing traffic through Glenwood was done in 1941. We need to make a decision. If we cant make a decision, we need to stop talking about it, he said. But hes hopeful something can happen this time around. Im hoping. Thats why I put money into it, Martin said. Ralph Trapani, a highway engineer who retired from CDOT about six years ago, said before the meeting, This has been an endless debate in Glenwood Springs. Maybe there was an opportunity to bypass downtown 15 to 20 or 30 years ago, but I dont believe bypassing downtown is a 21st century solution. You cant build your way out of congestion. Trapani was recently appointed to the citys Transportation Commission. In an e-mail to the City Council, he questioned the corridor optimization study leading into the corridor optimization plan. He said the study rated building a route just east of the Roaring Fork River higher than leaving traffic on Grand Avenue. He doesnt believe options should be evaluated without public input. The other thing that really bothers me about that study is it ignores transit, he said. Trapani said long-term traffic projections are inflated because they didnt account for increasing use of bus systems like Ride Glenwood and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. He said traffic data shows traffic on Highway 82 through downtown is at a good level. City engineer Mike McDill said traffic projections were made while bus systems were in place, already decreasing the number of drivers on the road. He believes projections may actually be conservative as bus ridership may not continue to grow as fast as it has been. Over 135 people signed the visitors sheet by 6 p.m., about an hour before the open house shut down. Visit http://www.glenwoodspringshighway82.com to submit comments or get more information. email@example.com
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