South Bridge environmental assessment moves forward | AspenTimes.com

South Bridge environmental assessment moves forward

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A meeting between the Garfield County Board of Commissioners and Glenwood City Council on Wednesday determined one thing about the frustrating South Bridge Project: that everyone included wants to move forward with the project. However, everyone had different ideas on how that should happen.

The proposed bridge would provide a critical second route between Highway 82 and the western side of the Roaring Fork River and South Glenwood Springs area. It would also improve emergency evacuation and emergency service access, and local land use access.

The final consensus for the evening was for consultants to move forward with the environmental assessment on three of the five recommended alternatives for the secondary southern access.

The remaining alternatives to be included in the assessment are two options that would go underneath the Glenwood Springs Airport runway. One option would meet up with highway 82 between the Holy Cross Energy complex and the Carter Jackson Ranch to the south, while the other option would go under the north section of the airport runway and connect with highway 82 north of Holy Cross Energy.

The third option would put the bridge at the old Cardiff Bridge crossing, connect to South Grand Avenue, and would intersect highway 82 south of Rosebud Cemetery.

That option was not considered a recommendation at the last joint meeting on May 27 because it would not meet National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. Those requirements dictate that in order for the process to utilize federally earmarked funds, that the project meets the original needs and purpose first specified. The need and purpose of which are to provide an emergency and local access to the southern part of town.

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Some officials at Wednesday’s meeting felt the third option did not meet those requirements.

City Councilor Leo McKinney said, “It’s been said that [it] is not a viable solution to this problem. I don’t want to waste time including this in the assessment if it’s not a viable option.”

Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen agreed saying that the third option would not meet the needs and purpose as well as the other two options. However, he did support including it in the assessment.

Councilor Shelley Kaup agreed with McKinney as well, however, ultimately agreed to include it.

“I don’t think that [it] is a viable option, but if the community would like to see that option explored then we should include it,” she said.

That comment came after resident Steve Smith, who lives near the airport, said that excluding the third option would not be “fair”.

“To be a true range of alternatives it should have a true range of action alternatives,” Smith said. “[It] may not be perfect, but its an alternative.

“The notion that [it] should be dropped because it might not work is not fair,” Smith added.

With that, the decision was made to include the third option in the assessment.

Both the BOCC and city council agreed to include multiple alternatives in the assessment at the May 27 meeting, rather than just recommending one specific alternative.

Now, both the BOCC and city council will formally submit their similar recommendations to the consultants doing the assessment, Jacobs Engineering, to move forward with the assessment. The assessment could take up to 18 months.

Craig Gaskill with Jacobs said that adding the alternatives to the assessment would increase the cost “incrementally.” Currently, Jacobs has a contract with the city for around $1.2 million for their work on the project which includes the assessment.

jgardner@postindependent.com