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Stakeholders to stay involved in Glenwood bridge planning

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentThe possible widening or replacement of the 58-year-old Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs is once again a current topic of discussion with CDOT officials and a group of local stakeholders.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A group of local stakeholders will be kept in the loop as project officials work to identify a preferred design and alignment for a new Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs.

“This is a really good cross-section of people, and we believe they can continue to add a lot to the process,” Joe Elsen, regional program engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said Friday.

The stakeholder group, made up of about 40 people, was first convened late last year as part of a “visioning” workshop to identify the main goals and objectives for the project.

It included area business and property owners, transportation and recreation group representatives, chamber officials, elected leaders and others who were identified as having a stake in determining the ultimate design for the new bridge.

CDOT is heading up the estimated $59 million project to widen, reinforce or possibly completely replace the 58-year-old Grand Avenue Bridge. The bridge carries State Highway 82 traffic over Interstate 70, the Colorado River, the railroad tracks and Seventh Street 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.

The new bridge could end up remaining within the current alignment from the intersection of Sixth Street and Pine on the north end, to the Eighth Street intersection coming into downtown.

But a range of alternative alignments is also being studied that could carry northbound traffic directly toward the intersection of Sixth and Laurel, where the main I-70 interchange is located.

The study area also takes in the one-block area on either side of Grand Avenue in the downtown area, possibly involving Cooper and Colorado avenues as well.

An attempt to widen the bridge in the late 1990s was met with resistance from Glenwood Springs business owners and political leaders, and that project was ultimately scrapped.

“I have talked to a lot of people who were opponents of the bridge widening at that time, who now think we are approaching it the right way,” Elsen said.

At the December visioning session, participants outlined several key objectives in planning for a new bridge. Among them are to:

• Minimize impacts to nearby businesses, both in the bridge design and during construction.

• Come up with a design that serves as an inviting gateway into downtown Glenwood Springs and complements the historic character.

• Maintain a separate pedestrian crossing of the Colorado River

• Enhance connectivity between the sections of town north and south of the river.

Between now and August, the project working group will be busy studying the various alternatives before arriving at a formal “preferred alternative.” That alternative will be further evaluated through a formal environmental analysis that is required by the Federal Highway Administration.

The bridge replacement project is using money from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise fund, which involves federal dollars. Pending final approval, construction could begin sometime in 2014. and lasting for up to two and a half years.

As part of CDOT’s public process, project designers are working to gather as much local input as possible before coming up with a new bridge design.

The stakeholders group was seen as crucial in that effort, project consultant Craig Gaskill, from Jacobs Engineering, said.

“We want as much good, local input as we can have, and this seemed like the right group to provide that,” Gaskill said.

Project officials are planning an upcoming series of presentations to civic groups, local government bodies and other organizations. An open house to update the public on the various alternatives that are being considered is tentatively scheduled for April 4.

Updated information about the Grand Avenue Bridge project can also be found at http://www.sh82grandavenuebridge.com.

jstroud@postindependent.com


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