Stakeholders have their say on Glenwood’s Grand Ave. Bridge ‘vision’ | AspenTimes.com

Stakeholders have their say on Glenwood’s Grand Ave. Bridge ‘vision’

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Minimizing impacts to nearby businesses, both in the design and during construction, will be keys to an acceptable Grand Avenue Bridge reconstruction project.

The bridge design itself should be one that integrates into the community fabric, and serves as an inviting gateway into downtown Glenwood Springs.

Also important will be to maintain a separate pedestrian crossing of the Colorado River. And whether the bridge is refurbished or totally replaced, it should align with other city land-use and transportation plans.

Those were among the key objectives that came out of a stakeholders “visioning” session hosted by the Colorado Department of Transportation’s project design team during two, half-day sessions Wednesday and Thursday at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

“The goal here was to bring a group of stakeholders together – business and property owners, transportation and recreation groups, public officials – to discover a vision for the design of the bridge,” said Tom Newland, who is working with Jacobs Engineering as the public input facilitator for the project.

The state of Colorado is preparing to spend $59 million from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise fund to widen or possibly replace the 58-year-old Grand Avenue bridge.

Recommended Stories For You

The bridge takes State Highway 82 traffic over I-70, the Colorado River and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad tracks into downtown Glenwood Springs.

Though structurally sound, the bridge is considered functionally obsolete because it’s not wide enough for the four lanes of traffic it carries. Attempts to widen the bridge in the past have been met with resistance from Glenwood Springs businesses and political leaders.

So, CDOT is going through an extensive public process to gather as much local input as possible before coming up with a new bridge design.

“Before, engineers would come up with a range of alternatives, then take them out to the community for input,” Newland said. “This process turns that on its head and involves the community in coming up with those alternatives.”

This week’s stakeholder sessions involved 43 community leaders working with members of the design team to begin to determine alternatives for rebuilding the bridge.

Participants were also asked to identify various economic, social, tourism and environmental trends that should be considered in the design process.

A range of alternatives will be crafted by the design team over the next few months based on the objectives that came out of the stakeholder sessions. Eventually, a preferred alternative will be selected.

The Federal Highway Commission also requires a formal environmental assessment of the proposal. If approved, construction could begin in 2014.

Bridge construction schedules and related traffic impacts, including possible bridge closures, will also need to be assessed, said Joe Elsen, CDOT’s program engineer for the region, who is also part of the design team.

“The feedback we’ve gotten through this process is very vital,” he said. “From the beginning, we wanted to do this right, and make sure we’re in sync with the community.”

jstroud@postindependent.com