Public to weigh in on Glenwood’s Grand Ave. | AspenTimes.com

Public to weigh in on Glenwood’s Grand Ave.

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent

Anyone who drives, bikes or crosses Grand Avenue in Glenwood Springs probably has something to say about the shortcomings of the city’s main thoroughfare and what might be done to improve it.

They’ll get their chance to share their views with others next week during a three-day workshop focusing on a traffic-calming vision for Grand Avenue. After a shorter visit earlier this year, Dan Burden and Troy Russ, who consult with communities around the country on traffic issues, will return to Glenwood Springs to lead the workshop.

Cathy Tuttle, a member of an ad hoc city committee on traffic efficiencies, said the workshop is intended to help Glenwood Springs residents reclaim Grand Avenue. However, she recognizes its heavy use as a through route for commuters as well, and encourages them to weigh in on how to make it better.

“It is a regional approach, and that’s why we wanted to make sure that Garfield County is involved as well,” she said.

Representatives with the county, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and Colorado Department of Transportation have been invited to attend. Special sessions also have been scheduled to gain input from the education community, health-care providers and emergency responders.

Even kids will have their say. Children in third through eighth grades are being asked to talk about the challenges they face in dealing with Grand Avenue. For some of them, making the road safer would help reduce one source of the city’s traffic congestion, Tuttle said.

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“They have to get across Grand Avenue, and if they can get across, that means their mom and dad don’t have to take them to school,” Tuttle said.

Last week, City Council members voiced initial support for a draft traffic-calming policy that the ad hoc committee proposed for city streets. It lays out a process by which features such as bike lanes, median islands and speed humps could be put in place to slow down motorists and make streets safer and more pleasant for cyclists, pedestrians and residents. The committee also proposed a street standards policy that calls for generally narrower streets, again to calm traffic.

Addressing Grand Avenue traffic will be a trickier proposition for the city. Because Grand Avenue also is state Highway 82, changes to Grand would require approval by CDOT. In addition, the city will face pressure not to pursue traffic-calming measures that make things even slower for commuters who already endure a bottleneck on Grand.

John Haines, who lives near Glenwood Springs, told council last week that commuters will consider it “nuts” to talk about calming traffic on Grand. “They just want to get through town,” he said.

Tuttle encourages people with all points of view to attend next week’s workshop.

“It’s a consensus-building tool that we have with the whole community,” she said.

Tuttle said she expects the possibility of building a Highway 82 bypass on the railroad corridor along the Roaring Fork River to be part of the discussion. She doesn’t believe one solution alone will solve Grand Avenue’s problems, however.

“There’s a lot of different solutions, but the community has to come together to decide what’s most appropriate,” she said.

Tuttle said she hopes that everyone who participates has an open mind, and is willing to look at the pros and cons of all the various options before coming to a conclusion about what’s best for Grand Avenue.

“Get involved is the main thing. There’s a lot of opinions, but just get involved with this to come up with a solution.”