Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge – What do you think?

The following is a press release from CDOT regarding the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Bridge

News From
The Colorado Department
of Transportation
Twitter: @coloradodot

Contact: Nancy Shanks, CDOT Public Relations
(970) 385-1428 or (970) 749-3579 mobile
Joe Elsen, CDOT Program Engineer
(970) 384-3332 office, (970) 379-9532 mobile
August 19, 2013
Grand Ave. Bridge EA – Enthusiastic Support for the New Pedestrian Bridge Type

Ped Bridge 1

Glenwood Springs City Council favors simple ped bridge design that complements surrounding environment

GLENWOOD SPRINGS –At an August 1, 2013, workshop with Glenwood Springs City Council, a pedestrian bridge that focused on historic elements consistent with downtown Glenwood Springs was unanimously favored. This was consistent with what the project team had heard from public comments on pedestrian bridge types and features at public meetings, Strawberry Days exhibits and Downtown Market events.

A new pedestrian bridge was not originally part of the Grand Avenue Bridge project. The concept was introduced as part of the overall solution last fall when the project team began looking at how to demolish and construct the highway bridge. There are numerous utilities under the highway bridge that will have to be relocated before the existing bridge can be removed and replaced. The most efficient way to relocate these utilities was to place them on a new pedestrian bridge. The new pedestrian bridge also facilitates accelerated bridge construction techniques, important on this project to minimize impacts.

As this concept was considered in the evaluation process, it became apparent that a new pedestrian bridge would address almost all of the project criteria, including multimodal connectivity; safety and consistency with regional planning. As well, it has the potential to offer better harmony within the community, have reduced overall construction costs, minimize impacts to private property, and reduce overall impacts.

Ped bridge 2

The benefits and issues to consider in replacing the pedestrian bridge were presented at a combined Project Leadership Team/Project Working Group meeting back in October 2012. In November, the project team asked the Stakeholder Working Group to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of a new pedestrian bridge and what the bridge might look like. After initial input from this group, the project team developed a list of 14 potential bridge types that could be considered.

Attendees at the January 9, 2013, Public Open House commented on the 14 bridge type options and how some of them would look when paired with different Grand Avenue Bridge options. In addition to improving on the functionality of the existing bridge, public input suggested that the new pedestrian bridge would need to complement the highway bridge, accommodate both pedestrians and bicycles, and incorporate the aesthetics and historic details that fit the historic context of Glenwood Springs.

The project team considered the public and stakeholder comments at a bridge design workshop held in February. The team’s bridge architect, engineers, and environmental experts discussed the merits and disadvantages of a wide range of bridge types. After two days of discussion, the project team narrowed the 14 options to three options to be considered in more detail. These options were: 1) a single-tower, cable-stayed symmetric span bridge (two equal spans); 2) a single-tower, cable-stayed asymmetric-span bridge (spans of different lengths); and 3) an arch bridge that spans from the south bank to north of I-70.

During the discussions and subsequent evaluations, the project team evaluated the bridge types using several criteria: environmental impacts, site constraints/opportunities, aesthetics, constructability/phasing, schedule, maintenance, cost, span, and other impacts.
Renderings and models were presented to the Glenwood Springs City Council, other stakeholders, and the public while conceptual design details were being developed. There was no overwhelming support for any one of the options. After feedback was received on May 30 from the Stakeholder Working Group and the City Council voiced concerns that the current options did not reflect the character of the community, the project team reset their direction and developed three bridge types to present to the City Council on August 1.

“All of the bridge types we have considered would meet the purpose and need of the project, and would work from an engineering perspective,” CDOT Region 3 Central Program Engineer Joe Elsen said. “The public process helped us come up with the best solution for the community. We listened, redesigned, and now have what we believe to be a winning option that will be cost-effective to design and build.”

The current bridge type is what is called a five-span, variable-depth girder bridge. The 16-foot-wide bridge would be supported by girders under the deck rather than cables and towers above the deck, features found to block the views of the mountains and the river. The bridge would also clear span the Colorado River and incorporate several shorter towers with architectural elements consistent with the historic character of Glenwood Springs. It would accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists, with the potential for overlooks and other amenities.

Ped bridge 3

Gaining the endorsement of the City Council at their August 1st meeting and input from the individuals who have viewed the renderings at the Tuesday Downtown Markets means that the project team can start developing additional design details.

Ped Bridge 4

“Arriving at one solution from where we started was the result of the community’s vision for a context-sensitive design, an open and public process, and a talented group of bridge architects and engineers who were open to considering the range of options until we got it right,” Elsen said.

The public can see conceptual renderings in the lobby of the Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 West 8th Street. The model will also be available every other week at the Downtown Market in Centennial Park Tuesdays from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Those wanting to receive project updates can sign up via CDOT’s free message system by going to and clicking on green cell phone in the upper right hand side of the page. After signing in, scroll down to “Projects” and choose “SH 82 Aspen to Glenwood.”

The project is funded through the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, a government-owned business entity within CDOT. The Colorado General assembly created the statewide Bridge Enterprise via Senate Bill 09-108, also known as FASTER (Funding Advancements for Surface Treatment and Economic Recovery)

The purpose of the Bridge Enterprise is to complete designated bridge projects that involve the financing, repair, reconstruction and replacement of bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated “poor” by CDOT.

The Grand Avenue Bridge – more than a necessity . . . it must be an asset.

Grand Avenue Bridge (left) and Pedestrian Bridge (right)  mid April 2013

Grand Avenue Bridge (left) and Pedestrian Bridge (right) mid April 2013

So . . . what’s new with THE BRIDGE. . . the Grand Avenue Bridge??

I love writing a blog.  I am not constrained by the AP style or what is expected of a news story.  Those things have their place . . . just not here.

First of all, thanks to Craig Gaskill for spending nearly an hour of his valuable time talking with me last Friday.  In previous blogs I have said that I really do try to understand the facts and the angle people are looking at the bridge, the ACP and any bypass or alternate route.  It is not always possible, but I try.

Today, CDOT sent out a press release updating the bridge process.  I know CDOT has many irons in the fire – and the Grand Avenue Bridge is just one.  Thanks to Nancy Shanks at CDOT for forwarding this release to me as well.

First of all – the Grand Avenue Bridge is not dead!   It is alive and well. 

A CMGC – short for General Manager Construction Manager – has been selected and is under contract with CDOT.   That Contractor, Granite/RLW Joint Venture has already been talking with folks in town, for several weeks, as well as the project design team.  It is my understanding that this contractor is based in Utah, but I have not been able to confirm.

Please know that the public process has not endedThe Stakeholders Working Group is meeting at 1:30 on Thursday May 30 at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.  Anyone is welcome to attend this meeting.  As Craig explained to me – the design piece of the Grand Avenue Bridge is so important to the community and so critical to the success of the project, that this piece has been accelerated.  Normally, there is the NEPA process (more on that in a later post) and then comes the design process.  Because this is so critical, according to Nancy Shanks, CDOT Public Relations, “Public input continues to be an important part of the process and will be considered along with the evaluation of impacts in the Environmental Assessment.  Input on architectural elements, design details, the construction detour, landscaping, signage and other elements will be the focus of work over the next 12 to 18 months.”   Primary needs to be addressed include the pedestrian bridge structure, the bridge design details and the design elements and treatments for the entry into Glenwood Springs from I-70.

Additionally, according to Mr. Gaskill, it is hoped that a representational model will be available around the first of June.   He stressed that the model will not include design elements, and as such is useful for scale and size, but is not a true representation of the final product.

According to Mr. Gaskill, the NEPA process is approximately midway.  The preliminary public review of the Environmental Assessment is slated for January 2014. At the same time, the pedestrian bridge type is expected.  The complete EA process, along with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) decision documents, are expected in May 2014. The findings could result in an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or a Finding of No Significant Impact, also known as a FONSI.   The complete design is anticipated by December 2014 with construction beginning January 2015.  As CDOT stated, these dates could change.

My question to Mr. Gaskill was who is involved in making this decision document?  He explained that there are a number of entities involved included the State Historical Preservation Office, State Historical Society and CDOT.  The Federal Highway Administration has the final say along with the CDOT Chief Engineer.   However, he did say that they and CDOT will be ensuring that the proper public process has taken place before they sign off.

Mr. Gaskill and Ms. Shanks have indicated that the 6th and Laurel intersection is another prominent area of concern.  Apparently input has resulted in some new variations of that area that could result in “fewer property impacts and improved pedestrian access” according to a press release from CDOT.   Mr. Gaskill and I talked about the fact that pedestrian and bicycle circulation is of great concern in that area.   He stated that CDOT and the design team understand this concern, which has led to consideration of these additional alternatives.

Mr. Gaskill and I talked a bit about the I-70 116 interchange to the pedestrian bridge.  He indicated that there are three issues; 1) the complexity of the intersection 2) the ability of pedestrians and bicyclists to navigate the area and 3) the potential for redevelopment of the 6th Street area.  Apparently the group has determined the best option is an underpass of SH 82 in North Glenwood with a connection to Two Rivers Park. According to the press release, “The benefits of this option are a safer and more direct connection between Two Rivers Park and North Glenwood, including 6th Street and connections to the Glenwood Canyon Trail.”   I do know that in a discussion at the Glenwood Springs Rivers and Trails Commission last week, there was skepticism that this would work well.

Because of the discussion surrounding the Access Control Plan, the bridge project team is moving forward with a design based on a full movement intersection at 8th and Grand.  According to the press release, it will have little effect on the new Grand Avenue Bridge.

For open house exhibits and background as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions, see

If you want to receive project updates, sign up at and clicking on the green cell phone in the upper right corner.  Sign in and scroll down to “projects” and choose “SH82 Aspen to Glenwood.”    Comments can also be provided directly to Joe Elsen at

As Mr. Gaskill and I wrapped up our conversation, as well as in an email with Ms. Shanks, I reiterated that the citizens of Glenwood Springs, while as a whole are a friendly bunch; we are also a very demanding bunch.  I appreciate that CDOT and their consultants and design team are going to great lengths to develop context sensitive solutions. However, the design, as well as the ability for easy, safe multi-modal transportation is critical to this community.  This bridge must be something that is not simply a necessity, but an asset.

Grand Avenue Bridge Town Hall Meeting April 2


Glenwood Springs, CO…”Grand Avenue Bridge: Myths, Realities & Opportunities” is the subject of a town hall meeting hosted by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (GSCRA) and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) on Tuesday, April 2 beginning at 6 pm at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. The meeting will be facilitated by Clark Anderson, Director of the Western Colorado Legacy Program for the Sonoran Institute.

The town hall meeting panel consists of Joe Elsen, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Project Engineer for the Grand Avenue Bridge; Zane Znamenacek, CDOT Traffic Program Manager and a resource for the Access Control Plan; Jim Charlier, President of Charlier Associates, a DDA consultant and a nationally-recognized transportation planning professional; and John Haines, Chairman of “Citizens to Save Grand Avenue,” a group of citizens who have raised concerns about the Grand Avenue Bridge project and Access Control Plan.

According to GSCRA Board Chair Michael McCallum, “The chamber’s objective is to provide our businesses and the public with accurate information about the bridge replacement project. We are collaborating with the DDA to host a meeting that encourages public dialogue with a panel of outside and community resources. We want to provide facts and information to help people understand the issues, and to explore solutions and opportunities.”

Executive Director of the DDA Leslie Bethel says, “As part of our overarching goal to enhance the downtown experience for residents and guests through infrastructure, beautification and

Q & A on the Grand Avenue Access Control Plan; the Project Team Responds

Last month I sent a series of questions regarding the Access Control Plan to various groups including the City, Stolfus and Associates, and CDOT. My questions were circulated to the Project Team and last Thursday, I received their response. What follows is my questions (in bold), followed by the response as sent to me by Michelle Hansen, a Professional Engineer with Stolfus and Associates. My thanks to Stolfus, CDOT and the City for getting this information to me. Perhaps if there are other questions entered into the comments area, they will respond. I apologize for the formatting of this. Like I said before, you get what you pay for and this blog hosting site is free!

What is the difference/benefit (Pros & Cons?) of entering into an IGA with CDOT in an ACP as opposed to simply going with the current standard access code?

Access is currently controlled on the State Highway System via the State Highway Access Code. By law, CDOT must enforce the requirements of the State Highway Access Code. CDOT applies the Code on an individual first-come/first-serve basis as properties develop and redevelop. The standards and criteria of the Code must be applied as defined with limited flexibility for adjustment. With the Code, CDOT staff cannot consider adjacent land use, future access to adjacent properties, or corridor-wide impacts. The benefits of entering into an IGA with CDOT in an ACP include:
• The City has an opportunity to partner with CDOT to define future access conditions on SH 82 that balance both State and Local objectives. The ACP allows the City to participate in making decisions about access that are more consistent with the City’s vision, land use, and local transportation system rather than having access defined solely by the standards and criteria of the State Highway Access Code.
• The ACP addresses access on a corridor-wide basis rather than an individual, first-come/first-serve basis. An ACP considers how adjacent access points impact each other and defines how access to adjacent properties can be achieved as redevelopment occurs. Adopting the ACP provides the City with the tools to incorporate potential and anticipated future development as it relates to access and provides property owners with security in the planned access for their properties.
• In some instances, the recommendations of the ACP allow closer access spacing and a higher level of access than the criteria of the State Highway Access Code where technical analyses can demonstrate adequate safety and operations. Additionally, the recommendations considered adjacent land use, corridor specific conditions, and City goals for future improvements which are specifically not considerations of the State Highway Access Code.
• Adopting an ACP is the first step necessary for implementing traffic calming and streetscaping improvements on SH 82. These types of improvements have been recommended in multiple previous studies conducted by the City. Specifically, this is the first step towards implementing raised landscaped medians along Grand Avenue. The ACP process ensures that the State and City have provided legal access for adjacent properties and facilitates the public process for any proposed access modifications.
A potential downside of adopting the Access Control Plan is that the ACP recommendations reflect today’s point of view about future conditions. As time goes by, not all of the assumptions of the ACP will ring true. While the ACP provides for future modification to resolve those issues as they arise, the City will likely need to expend public funds to make the necessary changes.

I understand that an ACP is put in place to promote safety and efficiency along a section of highway. In what ways, specifically, does this ACP address pedestrian and bicycle safety and promote multi-modal transportation uses?

An ACP specifically addresses vehicular access to the State Highway System. However, per the State Highway Access Code, ACP’s shall not preclude the current or future accommodation for other transportation modes. Supporting alternative modes is a goal of the project and the Draft ACP supports this goal in the following ways:
• A pedestrian and/or cyclist must cross every driveway on the highway that crosses the sidewalk and/or bicycle lane. Consolidating, reducing, and defining access points reduces the number of conflict points and the associated crash risk between vehicles and pedestrians and/or cyclists.
• The plan is the first step toward implementing traffic calming measures that will make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly. This may include the addition of raised, landscaped medians and the opportunity for wider sidewalks and/or separation between sidewalks and traffic lanes.
• The Draft Plan separates the highest pedestrian movement in the corridor at 8th Street from vehicular traffic providing a safe, free-flowing pedestrian underpass beneath the proposed Grand Avenue Bridge within a couple hundred feet of the 8th Street intersection.
• By placing a full signal at 9th Street, the draft plan also encourages pedestrians to walk from 8th Street to 9th Street, improving the economic viability of businesses in this block.
• By removing the need for left-turn movements at 8th Street, the proposed Grand Avenue Bridge width can be minimized, allowing for a 10’ shared use path connection between the pedestrian bridge and 8th Street, eliminating the need for a scissor structure (a switchback type ramp structure that provides a connection between the pedestrian bridge and the street level and allows the pedestrian/cyclist to exit the structure approximately above or below where they started) or elevator at 7th Street.
• The Draft Plan is consistent with the existing Safe Routes to School route at 9th Street which calls for student crossing of Grand Avenue (SH 82) at 9th Street.
• The Draft Plan provides a consistent spacing between pedestrian crossings in the downtown area rather than creating long segments without pedestrian crossings.
• A pedestrian–only signal is maintained at 15th Street to address the currently warranted pedestrian crossing driven by the movement of high school students.
• The proposed realignment of S. Grand Avenue (at 23rd) will improve the sight lines for all users and will thereby improve safety including safety of the RFTA trail crossing that currently crosses S. Grand at a significant skew.

What type (classification) of Highway is SH 82 through Glenwood – and where can I find the Access code associated with that classification.

SH 82 from I-70 to the Glenwood Springs south city limits is classified as Non-Rural Arterial (Category NR-B). SH 82 beyond the City limits (approximately where the median barrier begins) towards Orrison is classified as an Expressway (Category EX). The State Highway Access Code describes each category and associated requirements. The State Highway Access Code, as well as other access related references, can be found on the CDOT website at:

The ACP is based on projections for 2032 (I believe – going from memory). When were those projections done and how were they calculated. Given the current downturn in the economy, could those projections be overstated?

The projections for the project are based on a 20-year planning period (2032). Traffic counts were conducted in March 2012 for this project. Seasonal variations in traffic volumes were accounted for and the March counts were adjusted to reflect conditions typically experienced in August, the second highest volume month of the year. Future projected traffic volumes account for background growth (growth anticipated over time) and traffic generated from known planned developments. A background growth rate of 2.0% was used for the Access Control Plan. This growth rate was developed by considering both recent history and a 20-year view of historic trends. The rate is also consistent with other recent plans, including the Corridor Optimization Plan, the South Bridge EA, and the Grand Avenue Bridge EA. The background growth rate of 2.0% was applied to the seasonally adjusted March 2012 traffic counts to project traffic volumes.

Traffic engineering is not an exact science and uses available data to make educated forecasts about future conditions. Any traffic projection risks overstating or understating future traffic volumes due to unknown future conditions; however, even if it takes longer than 20 years to realize the projected growth of traffic volumes, we anticipate that similar growth will be realized over time. Again, an ACP maps out changes that can be implemented when growth does happen.

Are there currently any plans by the City or CDOT to install medians along any portion of Grand Avenue?

CDOT does not currently have any plans to install medians on Grand Avenue except any median that would be included as part of the Grand Avenue Bridge project (not expected to extend past 8th Street).

The City has several planning documents that recommend installing medians on Grand Avenue including the Comprehensive Plan, Grand Avenue Traffic Calming Plan (Dan Burden Plan), and the City Downtown Plan. The Access Control Plan is the first step toward implementation of medians. The City has budgeted funds to develop preliminary plans for medians within the downtown area. This project has not been initiated yet. No funding is currently identified for construction of any medians along any portion of Grand Avenue.

Does this plan include any elements of the “Dan Burden Plan” and if so, what?

The Draft Access Plan incorporates many of the elements recommended in the Grand Avenue Traffic Calming Plan or “Dan Burden Plan” including:
• Setting the stage for installing raised medians on Grand Avenue. The Access Plan is the first step to planning for raised medians along Grand Avenue.
• Eliminating left turns on 8th and 10th. (Note: The “Dan Burden Plan” does not specifically recommend removing the traffic signals at these intersections. That recommendation was developed from the ACP.)
• Moving the 15th Street signal to Hyland Park Drive.
• Realigning Hyland Park Drive with Park Drive.
• The Access Plan does not specify what type of traffic control is required at full movement intersections. However, roundabouts are an acceptable form of traffic control at full movement intersections. The “Dan Burden Plan” recommends roundabouts at 23rd and 27th. Both of these intersections are identified as full movement intersections in the Draft Access Plan; therefore, roundabouts could be implemented in the future as long as the roundabout operates at an acceptable Level of Service and there is enough space to construct a roundabout that can accommodate the design vehicle for the highway.

A stated goal of the Glenwood Springs “Glenwood Spring Transportation Plan 2003-2030” is “To provide and efficient network of streets and bridges that provide safe and convenient access for autos, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians. Streets must be well maintained and function according to street classifications.” Specifically, how does the ACP further this goal?

Focusing solely on the City’s street classifications, Grand Avenue and Glen Avenue are classified as prinicipal arterials. As defined by the City’s Street Standards, “Principal Arterials provide for mobility through the City and for connecting the major centers of activity within the City. Although principal arterials may provide access to commercial and residential properties where no other alternative is available, access is a secondary function.” The ACP ensures that each property adjacent to Grand/Glen has access either directly or via the local street system. In addition, the ACP locates major intersections to provide efficient traffic flow which will preserve capacity on Grand/Glen as traffic volumes increase. This will result in reduced delay and travel times which will encourage through traffic to stay on the Grand/Glen rather than diverting to the local street system. Consolidating access and minimizing locations where vehicles merge, split, or cross also reduces conflict points and potential crash risk.

Has any kind of an economic impact study been conducted? I know there are several studies out there. Are there any that have been done by independent sources – other than by or for a Department of Transportation. The reason I ask is an explicitly stated distrust of studies done by government.

No, an economic impact study has not been conducted as part of the Access Plan study process. The implementation of an Access Control Plan is largely dependent on redevelopment of properties and businesses, so an economic impact study based on today’s businesses does not provide specifically applicable data. However, the DDA has contracted with a group of consultants to evaluate the different intersection configurations between 8th and 10th. This group includes an economic consultant.

There has been talk of requiring an EIS. Will this project (ACP) trigger an EA and/or and EIS?

No, an Access Control Plan will not trigger and EA or an EIS. An Access Control Plan is a planning document and does not have specific construction projects defined. The plan itself will be implemented in phases as things change. Each construction project that is developed over time, whether private or public, will be required to obtain an environmental clearance prior to construction. At that time, the level of environmental clearance required will be defined. Implementation of a portion of an Access Control Plan generally does not require modifying the alignment or capacity of the highway and is accomplished in small phases. Generally, implementation of a portion of an Access Control Plan meets the requirements for a Categorical Exclusion and does not require an EA or EIS.

The intersections at 23rd and 27th are the most probable to see some changes – based on what I understand. If, for example, 23rd Street intersection is reconfigured, how far does that trigger the implementation of the ACP? Down to Safeway? Up to 27th? Or is it limited to only the immediate intersection?

The limits of a construction project at 23rd are difficult to define at this point. Depending on the timing and funding, the limits of the project could be limited to the immediate intersection or could extend farther. These are the elements that will be considered in defining the limits of the project:
• The length required to physically tie-in the realigned intersection with SH 82.
• Operational or safety issues occurring adjacent to or near the intersection at the time of construction
• Funding available to complete improvements
• Other public or private projects in the area that can be combined

Have things like grade differences been considered when determining shared access? If it has not been considered now, will it be considered at the time of implementation?

Yes, grade differences have been considered when determining shared access and will also need to be considered as part of the development plans at the time of implementation. Shared access will be implemented with redevelopment. We have considered the feasibility of addressing existing grade differences within a redevelopment project. It is reasonable that within a redevelopment project, grade adjustments within 1 or 2 feet can be achieved. For example, there is an existing grade difference between the Jimmy’s 66 and Cyber Salon and Day Spa. When the Cyber Salon and Day Spa redevelops (increases traffic by more than 20%), grades would need to be adjusted at the shared driveway location and the grades of the new driveway would be very similar to the existing driveway.

What are the reasons that the City has not undertaken a traffic circulation study, particularly for the downtown area in light of the bridge, ACP, library and parking structure?

The City plans to conduct a traffic circulation study downtown following completion of the Access Plan study and the parking study currently in process. The City has selected to complete the circulation study following these other studies to minimize study overlap, reduce confusion, and focus study efforts efficiently based on recommendations from the other studies as they relate to and potentially influence circulation needs and desires. Since the City’s downtown street system is a grid system, it provides one of the most flexible circulation configurations possible for city street networks.

For shared access, would a reciprocal easement or access agreement be necessary? If so, have those agreements typically addressed liability and indemnification? If not, how are those issues addressed?

Yes, for shared access, a legal access agreement or easement would be required. Liability and indemnification would need to be addressed specifically in the easement agreement prepared by the property owner’s attorney. The City and CDOT would not participate in the specifics of the easement, but would make development approval conditional upon providing one.

Does the City currently have any plans to extend Blake to Wal-Mart? If this were done, what improvements would be necessary on Blake from 23rd Street South?

The City does not currently have plans to extend Blake to Wal-Mart. This connection was identified as a potential improvement for the purposes of local circulation. The adoption of the Access Control Plan only applies to the access points directly to the highway and does not obligate the City to improve any local circulation routes shown including Blake, 8th Street connection, 14th Street connection, or South Bridge.

If Blake was extended to Wal-Mart for public traffic, roadway improvements would be required and would likely include improving the cross-section to one of the City’s standard street sections, as well as improving the condition of the driving surface itself.

Could the redevelopment of one parcel or business trigger the redevelopment for an entire block or group of businesses?

Under the both the State Highway Access Code and the ACP, depending on the size and extent of a redevelopment, the level of access could be restricted for multiple properties or businesses with the redevelopment of one parcel or business. For example, if a large redevelopment project is initiated and the City requires the developer to install medians along a portion of Grand Avenue or Glen Avenue, the construction of medians could restrict other driveways within that segment to right-in/right-out.

In contrast, the relocation, consolidation, and shared access conditions in the plan would not be triggered for other parcels adjacent to a property redevelopment unless the property owner participated willingly. Relocation, consolidation and shared access will be implemented based on individual redevelopments. Shared access is generally accomplished through multiple iterations since the timing of redevelopment for two properties side by side do not generally occur simultaneously. For example, if the plan indicates a shared access between property A and property B, and property A redevelops first, property A will be required to construct their new access adjacent to the property line and provide an access easement for property B. When property B redevelops several years later, property B will construct a shared access or connect to the existing access at property A and provide an access easement for property A.

Chris McGovern states that 10 small businesses went out of business due to the recent Grand Avenue Paving Project (GAPP) project. Is there any way to verify or refute this? Is there any ongoing information/studies related to business in Glenwood Springs and why they succeed or don’t. If they go out of business does anyone follow up to see what are the reasons?

It is difficult to directly associate the success or failure of a business to a single factor or event. Numerous factors other than construction or access can impact a business’ revenues, including, but not limited to, internal management and operations, external local and global economic factors, competition, and technology/industry related changes. Studies have shown that certain businesses experience increased revenues as a result of construction spending during a project. Given the numerous factors that contribute to a business’ success or failure and the variation in effects businesses experience during construction, there is no way to specifically link the failure of an individual business to a single factor or, in this case, a single project.

” . . .the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

Grand Avenue looking south from the old wooden bridge - Courtesy of Frontier Historical Museum. Please do not reproduce.

Grand Avenue looking south from the old wooden bridge – Courtesy of Frontier Historical Museum. Please do not reproduce.

When I started Our Town Glenwood Springs a month ago, I began it more as a way for me to clarify my thoughts on things that are going on in Glenwood Springs. Writing, for me, is a way to analyze information and organize my view. This process has been interesting. It has garnered some attention that I didn’t really anticipate from entities like City Council and the Glenwood Post Independent. I really appreciate the recognition of my effort – and truly that is all it is – just an effort to try to bring some facts to people. I love the following quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” This blog does not address any national crisis – although there are several worthy of addressing – but this blog seeks to stick to the local, Glenwood Springs issues. However, like Lincoln, I am also a firm believer that the people, when given the facts, with make appropriate decisions based on those facts.

Another great statesman, John F. Kennedy said, “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” This is what has driven me to spend many hours and sleepless nights, reading and researching. Although I have been a resident of Glenwood Springs for nearly 45 years, I wanted to step out of my prefabricated interpretations and, dare I say it, prejudices – to try to find the facts and separate them from assumption and speculation and misinformation that seem to abound. Predictions of blight and vermin infested vacated downtown buildings are no more accurate than being able to return to the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s where Grand Avenue was an idyllic boulevard with trees forming a canopy shading vehicles traveling to and from the mining town of Aspen and points in between.

Yesterday, citizens of Glenwood Springs, along with business owners, and other interested individuals had the chance to get a glimpse of the height and width of the proposed Grand Avenue Bridge structure. Last night was the first of two planned evenings of public hearings regarding the proposed Access Control Plan. We also learned that the Chamber Resort Association is working to get a mediated “town hall” type of meeting together so that City Council can engage in a dialog with residents, business owners, and other stakeholders over the big three; the bridge, the ACP and a bypass. I certainly hope that the Chamber is able to bring that meeting to fruition.

I found one aspect of yesterday’s meetings very encouraging. The respectful and reasonable comments made by both the citizens commenting and Council was heartening. Yes, I did hear some derogatory remarks generally muttered under breath or for the benefit of someone seated or standing nearby but this was, in my opinion, a far more beneficial assemblage than I have witnessed.

Not unlike other meetings, most were concerned about the impact of the bridge and the ACP on the downtown. This is not to say that other areas were not considered or discussed, but much of the comment involved the downtown area. Some feared that the larger bridge would create a tunnel or canyon effect on the area of Grand Avenue from 7th to 8th Streets and that businesses would be ‘sacrificed” for the bridge. There was concern about emergency access and the potential of closing alleys. There were questions about the real need for a new bridge. Terry Stark thought the issue of a bridge should be brought to a vote of the citizens of Glenwood Springs, but others maintained that the bridge is a regional issue. The scale and mass of the proposed bridge was questioned. Manette Anderson stated that she thought a 3-D model was needed, sooner than later, to help the community visualize the bridge. Several members of City Council agreed and said they had hoped to see that prior to the meeting.

Prior to the Access Control presentation by Michelle Hansen a traffic consultant with Stolfus and Associates, Councilor Todd Leahy asked Michelle to explain the how SH 82 through Glenwood Springs is currently managed under the States Access Control Code. Michelle explained that under the current state code, adopted in 1981 and revised once in 2002, the only access guaranteed to any parcel is a right-in-right-out access. If development/redevelopment of a property occurs and it increases traffic to that property by 20 percent, then the owner/developer must file for an access permit. She emphasized that the current Access Code does not take into consideration land use and it is very rigid in its application. She also stated that it is not equitable as access is granted on a first-come-first-served basis. The advantage to adopting an ACP is that it gives the City a say in how things are managed. While it is an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and legally binding, it can be amended. She stated that in Colorado State Transportation Region 3, of which Glenwood is a part, five requests for amendments have been requested and all five requests were approved.

During her comments to Council after the presentation, Karen Price stated that it was very helpful to know what the existing policy was. She also mentioned that she spoke with Chief of Police Terry Wilson and he explained that emergency access including firefighting procedure would not be much different with a new bridge than it was now. She said she appreciated his explanation. However, she wondered what the impact of the new bridge and the ACP would have on community events like the Strawberry Days Parade, Downtown Farmer’s Market. She also wondered whether adequate consideration had been given to ADA issues.

Bob Andre and John Burg stated they thought the process that had been undertaken for the bridge and the ACP was good. Mr. Burg emphasized that pedestrian movement must be considered particularly in the downtown. He stated that downtown Glenwood was special and he knew the DDA was working to make sure key issues were addressed.

Chris McGovern spoke twice, once regarding the bridge and the second time regarding the ACP. Perhaps she will forward me her comments on the bridge for use in this blog. Regarding the ACP she questioned the wisdom of the use of U-turns throughout town as a solution due to the fact that many people misjudge the turning radius of their vehicles. She encouraged more public meetings as planned by the Chamber.

Councilor Dave Sturges mentioned that he was not convinced that the ACP was a better option than the current Access Code and it would allow the City more say. He is very concerned with the impact on 8th, 9th and 10th streets and sees this as an opportunity to enhance the downtown experience for visitors and residents alike.

County resident John Haines mentioned that he talked with Governor Hickenlooper briefly in Snowmass on Wednesday evening and was given the name of a contact at the Governor’s office for further discussion regarding the Grand Avenue Bridge as he did not feel the Governor received both sides of the story from his brief meeting with City Council.

Members of City Council emphasized that while they are unanimous in their opinion that a new bridge is needed and that the proposed alignment is the best, many aspects of the bridge are not set in stone, including the design and aesthetics and the 8th Street configuration and the pedestrian bridge. They also stated that, regarding the ACP, they are still gathering information and listening to comments and suggestions and will weigh the concerns, considerations and suggestions very carefully before making a final decision. They encouraged the community to continue to give them feedback via email and Councilor Bershenyi restated that he is happy to meet with anyone for coffee and discussion.

With this blog, I simply wanted to get some information out about the comments from last night’s meeting. If you feel I have not accurately represented your comments, or you wish to add additional comments, please feel free to add to the discussion in the form of a comment. As an editorial comment I wish to say that this City Council faces some of the most burdensome and potentially divisive issues to come before this body for many years. We, as citizens, rather than criticizing and condemning them should be doing everything we can to assist them in making the best, most sagacious decisions possible for our community. I think we are moving in that direction. Let’s continue to keep the discussion positive and thoughtful.

Access Control Plan Response to Chris McGovern

This, as promised, is in response to a comment from Chris McGovern to my blog “Hot Under the Collar” posted February 20th :

First of all, Chris, thank you for your many years of service on City Council and the Transportation Commission. I realize that I have very big shoes to fill on the Transportation Commission. I appreciate your taking the time to comment on my blog and I hope you will continue to read and contribute.

The Planning Commission workshop last Tuesday was devoted to the Access Control Plan. By the way – these work sessions are open to the public and are publicly noticed. I am a firm believer that land use and transportation go hand in hand – and so the Planning Commission has requested another opportunity to review and make formal comment to City Council before a decision is made. City Council will be taking public comment at their meetings on March 7th and March 21st with a decision potentially coming April 4th. I also understand from talking with City Engineer Terri Partch that prior to the March meetings, story poles will be erected by CDOT along Grand Avenue to demonstrate the potential bridge widths associated with various traffic movement at 8th and Grand. I hope everyone will take the time to review this information.

Before I go much further, I need to say a couple of things:

• I am not a 100% advocate of the Access Control Plan as proposed. I see some positives and some negatives “as proposed”.
• I am still learning, still investigating and still asking lots of questions.
• I do like to play “Devil’s Advocate” – so bear with me . . .
• The Access Control Plan is just that . . . a “plan” – the implementation of which can be dependent on a number of factors.

Following is my response to Chris (Chris’ comments are in bold italics):
The ACCESS CONTROL PLAN is being proposed to move traffic along #82 at the expense of the Glenwood Springs community and at the expense of circulation patterns within Glenwood.

This is an opinion and as such is valid as such – an opinion. The circulation pattern, if all the ACP were adopted and implemented as proposed, most certainly would change. Whether it would be to the “detriment” of the current circulation pattern is pure conjecture.

The town would be bisected by an ACCESS CONTROL PLAN that is designed to mitigate traffic congestion on Grand Ave.

The town currently is, to some degree, bisected by having SH 82 running through the center of the community. But it is also bisected by two rivers, the Roaring Fork and the Colorado. While not man-made, the community has had to make some necessary accommodations for those rivers in building community. The question is will it be MORE bisected by the ACP? The answer depends partly on what is adopted by the City and approved by CDOT. If intersections are limited to right-in, right-out, it could indeed make getting from the east side to the west of Grand Avenue a longer, more convoluted process. Will it prevent it? Absolutely not.

• Glenwood citizens & visitors will be PROHIBITED from making left hand turns off Grand or onto Grand (that are currently allowed) at 56 locations between 8th and 30th.

I didn’t count but I trust that your numbers are accurate including intersections and “driveways” between 8th and Blake (30th) as the current ACP is proposed. If I counted correctly, there are 16 proposed closures between 23rd Street and 27th Street. In most of these cases, that may be an understatement as many of the businesses along this stretch have no clear entrances or exits. The same is true with the 6 or 7 “closures” from 27th to Blake (by McDonald’s) . Two things to keep in mind if I understand correctly (& I will verify and correct if this is not accurate):
The ACP will only be triggered by
*redevelopment of the property
*A traffic increase of 20% to the business
*Event of a serious accident

• As the study is proposed now- a car would not be allowed to travel ACROSS Grand Avenue at 8th Street or at 10th Street…. which truly cuts off one side of town from the other. All of the existing cross traffic east to west and west to east that currently travels on 8th, 9th and 10th is proposed to be handled by 9th Street. Very little of the cross traffic would move farther to the south- unless 9th Street stopped working/which of course COULD happen. (8th St. is already “past capacity”.)

My current preference, based on the information that I have, is that 8th and 9th Streets remain fully functional, signalized intersections. I really would like to like the right-in, right-out with a “pork chop” pedestrian refuge however my concern is access to the governmental and business entities as well as a potential connection to the 7th/8th Street bridge to Midland. I also think that if pedestrians are not given the option to cross somewhere between the middle of the 700 block (the under bridge crossing) and the 9th Street, I think that they may try to make a run for it.

If the decision is to go with right-in, right-out at 8th Street, then I would suggest that the city and CDOT consider a mid-block crossing in the 800 block with a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the street as well as some kind of flashing warning signal to motorists that pedestrians are present. This would mean the elimination of two parking spaces on either side of the street to create a bulb-out, but that in itself would, theoretically have a slowing, calming effect on traffic.

• There will be no turns from Grand Ave onto 7th… no access from Grand at that point, as the wing street will be closed.

This is true, but is more a function of the bridge replacement than of the ACP.

• 5 Parking spaces will be lost from the current parking area under the bridge.

True, but again a function of the bridge replacement more than ACP.

• If a vehicle was parked at the new library on 8th Street: the only “move” allowed at 8th & Grand would be to take a right hand turn & go over the bridge; there is no way to stay in downtown (The wing street is also proposed to be removed)

The parking under the library is currently earmarked as employee parking for Colorado Mountain College. Although I had to recuse myself from this decision when it appeared before the Planning Commission, I recall that one of the conditions included that cars exiting the garage would be limited to a right-hand turn. This would mean that employees would not be using the 8th Street intersection anyway. Patrons of the library will have various parking options, but most abundant parking will be located on Cooper. Chris is correct that if they use 8th & Grand (if limited to right-turn only), they will find themselves over the bridge. However at 8th and Cooper they will have several options including a right turn to go to Blake, or going one more block to 7th.

• Jimmy’s 66 at 13th is supposed to share a driveway onto Grand with the neighbor to the south. Has no-one ever walked those parcels to note the huge grade difference between the 2 properties?

This is a misconception. If Jimmy’s 66 and the businesses next door remain as they are, then nothing will change. If there is a redevelopment, then the access will be reviewed. The grade of the parcel next door appears to slope from east to west with the lowest nearest Grand. It appears that there is approximately a two-foot variance between the front of both parcels. I don’t think this would be a deal breaker for a shared entrance, but the grade would certainly be a consideration.

• Around 23rd….if a vehicle-customer coming from south Hwy #82 wanted to make a purchase from Arby’s…. the customer would need to go PAST Arby’s, take a left into Safeway, go south through the Safeway parking lot, continue going through Wendy’s parking lot, and finally arrive in Arby’s. What do you suppose that the impact will be on Arby’s business?

Again, keep in mind that this change would only be implemented if the businesses, Wendy’s or Arby’s redeveloped or if the City were to decide to add medians to Grand Avenue in this location. I don’t see that this will be an issue in the immediate future. There are in fact times when I have visited one or the other of these businesses, I will go back through the Safeway parking lot to make a left-hand turn onto Grand rather than take my chances in the “suicide lane” on Grand Ave.

• The gas station is even beyond Arby’s. Do planners really think that a consumer would take a left into Safeway, go through Wendy’s, go through Arbys in order to get to the gas station?

See above comment although Chris raises a good point for this gas station. Perhaps since 22nd Street across the street is planned to be a ¾ movement intersection (Left-in ok), this site could also be considered for the same.

• A customer would not be able to take a left into the US Bank in the 1900 block of Grand. When approaching from the south, the only access would be through Safeway.

Again – this would only take place upon redevelopment of the US Bank property. I have seen the proposed route – through Safeway parking – used by quite a few people.

• How does Safeway feel about being the “access” for a bank, for 2 restaurants and for a gas station? How much of the Safeway driveways are given up to traffic that is not Safeway’s customers? What kind of insurance liabilities must be absorbed by Safeway with this configuration?

While I cannot speak for Safeway, I would imagine they would be happy with anything that would bring potential customers to their door. Liability issues, I think, would be addressed with a reciprocal easement or access agreement that would stipulate any insurance requirement and indemnification.

• The Access Control Plan originally called for the Lutheran Church to be removed so that North Hyland drive can be straightened out to “meet” the corner of Park across the street. The plan has been changed to indicate the need to straighten out that intersection- but it could be done by taking 2 residential homes OR the Church.

It would only be done by “taking” IF there was a serious accident, probably a fatality. I am absolutely not an advocate of using eminent domain and would hope that the City could enter into an agreement with the appropriate land owners if and when the need or time arose. The recommendation from the City Engineer was that the City begin a fund to purchase these properties should they become available. Should CDOT feel that safety was critical, it might in fact not be the city who would exercise eminent domain.

• All of the property owners on the west side of Grand Ave between North Park Drive & South Park Dr. will be forced to “share” driveways” between neighbors with the “sale and/or redevelopment of property that brings a 20% increase of traffic”. (like a daycare home!) They will only be able to take a right hand turn out of their driveways. What do you suppose this does to THEIR property values?

In clarification of this with Terri Partch, City Engineer, she stressed that this area is currently zoned R1/6, which is single family residential. A rezoning of this area would be required to create the required 20% increase in traffic. Nothing will change if these homes remain residential. If the area were to be rezoned and uses began to be changed, then access in this area would also change.

• If you are in a vehicle on the east side of Grand between 14th and 20th—- you cannot take a left to get onto Grand Ave. according to the proposed plan (unless a “solution can be found for North Hyland Park Drive).. How much additional traffic does this force onto Blake Avenue ? What will the “wait” will be at he stop lights on 14th and 20th? How long do folks wait now to get across?

I understand, and will clarify with the City Engineer that the intersections and Park Drive and Hyland Park Drive (north) will remain full-movement intersections. Once again, nothing changes at the present time see above.

• When asked about pedestrian movements across Grand Ave , the planners kind of “shrugged” and stated that pedestrians would “still” be able to get across Grand at 8th (even though there’d be no signal/light…. but “perhaps” a safety median could be put there.) The PLAN calls for pedestrians to be “pushed” down to crossing under the bridge-closer to 7th…. instead of crossing at 8th (which is the heaviest used crossing in town).

See my response to an earlier point.

• Traveling south on Hwy #82 between 23rd and 27th—- there will be NO left hand turns allowed. You won’t be able to turn left into Domino’s, Defiance Thrift Store, etc. That means BLAKE between 23rd and 27th will have to service south bound-commercial traffic that is trying to get into all the businesses between 23rd & 27th. That stretch of Blake is not in any condition to carry that kind of traffic.

Again, nothing is slated to happen until/unless there is redevelopment and or a serious accident in this area. Also see an earlier response.

• The ACCESS CONTROL PLAN has Blake at 27th open through to Wal-Mart…. even though the Transportation Commission has been told by City Staff that was not being considered. Blake is not in any condition from 23rd to Wal-Mart to carry “through” traffic. Property owners along South Blake have not been noticed or consulted on this part of the proposal.

I have been in several meetings that opening of Blake through to WalMart was being kicked around. I have not heard that this option was off the table. I will check with City staff to get an opinion. I do think that in order for that to happen, Blake would need to be improved.

Everyone in Glenwood will be affected by an ACCESS CONTROL PLAN.
Many businesses in Downtown Glenwood will be adversely affected.
Businesses on Hwy #82 between 19th and 23rd would be severely impacted.
Citizens living on Blake, Cooper & Colorado will be negatively impacted.

There is truly no way to know to what extent businesses will be effected but the impact on our local business has always been one of my top concerns. I would direct you to a couple of reports prepared by various entities in other areas in response to very similar concerns. From reading these, it seems to be that the perceived negative effect to the business is greater than the actual negative effect.

I urge everyone to continue to read, listen, and do some investigation on your own. And of course – continue to read this blog and feel free to comment! If you simply wish to ask a question, I will try to see that it gets answered by someone who is qualified to answer!

Bridging the Gap

Grand Avenue 7 a.m. 2-12-13For a while, I gave up reading opines and harangues that often grace the pages of our local newspaper, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. No longer! I eagerly scan the pages for articles, advertisements, columns, editorials and letters to the editor for yet another perspective on the three issues that seem to be at the forefront of community discontent:

• the Grand Avenue Bridge Project
• the proposed Access Control Plan
• the need for an alternate route through Glenwood Springs

One thing is crystal clear, no matter where people stand on these issues; the people of Glenwood Springs genuinely care about our town. Whether they are members of City Council, members of boards or commissions within the city of Glenwood, City staff, business owners, property owners or residents they all want what is best for Glenwood Springs. This is a very good thing!

What is NOT a good thing is that this energy is flowing in the wrong direction. CDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, City Council and staff and “Citizens to Save Grand Avenue” are not the enemy. We are in this together. It behooves us, as citizens and residents of Glenwood Springs, to work toward solutions and not against each other. Will everyone agree on a solution? Absolutely not! But the challenges we face do not have to divide our town.

The items above are three distinct concerns. Are they intertwined? Possibly. Can we just lump them together to come up with the perfect solution? Probably not.

Today, I want to look at the alternate route/bypass issue. Granted – this could take several blogs – but I will try to hit some of the main points now.

A Bypass/Alternate Route has been contemplated, for at least 30 years based, sadly, on my personal knowledge and I understand it has been discussed for longer, perhaps 50 years. Here are some facts:

•The City of Glenwood Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) 2003-2030 addresses the “Relocation of State Highway 82.” In this plan, the location is identified as “. . . from Exit 114 along Midland Ave., crossing the Roaring Fork River and continuing along the rail corridor until 23rd Ave connecting to the existing Highway 82.” The LRTP goes on to say “It involves reconstructing Exit 114 and installing a bridge over the Roaring Fork River to connect to 8th Street, depending on the exact location of the preferred corridor. It also includes constructing an additional road, details depending on preferred corridor, following the rail corridor and a possible reconstruction of the 23rd Street intersection where it potentially will connect with the existing Highway 82.”
NOTE: Exit 114 – as mentioned in the above plan is the WEST Glenwood Exit.

•The same LRTP plan indicated “This is a cost estimate based on the 1999 analysis of Balloffet and Associates, Inc. in their Glenwood Springs State Highway 82 Alternatives. The approximate cost is $53 million.”

•The City’s Comprehensive Plan, adopted in March 2011 states, “The vision for transportation in Glenwood Springs is an integrated and balanced multi-modal transportation system –one that supports regional travel needs but not to the extent that it compromises a healthy, dynamic downtown, economic viability, pedestrian-orientation, and easy access to the city core.”

Key objectives in the Comp Plan include:
•Maximize effective traffic movement on Grand Avenue to the extent that it is consistent with maintaining pedestrian friendliness
•Increase the connectivity of local streets, trails and walkways to provide multiple routes for circulation through town
•Continue to assess and plan for an alternative alignment of State Highway (SH) 82
•Provide convenient alternatives to automobile circulation within the city limits for local residents and visitors.

The Comp Plan absolutely recommends that nothing should be done that will preclude an alternate route.

However, the Comp Plan also recognizes that the project is not currently part of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) nor is there currently funding for such a project. That does not mean that funding is impossible. It is just simply not on the radar at this time – partly due to the fact that, in spite of the information in the LRTP – there has never been consensus on exactly how and where the alternate route should go. Add to the mix is the fact that in order to make this happen, the City must work with the County, Union Pacific and RFTA in the preservation of the rail corridor.

One other point:
Funds for the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement come from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise Fund and cannot be used to fund a bypass/alternate route. From the CDOT Website, “The purpose of the CBE is to finance, repair, reconstruct and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated “poor.”

There is no easy solution. I am all for rolling up our sleeves and working together to finally find some additional routes for all transit through town. However, simply saying that we should not move forward to replace our aging bridge until we have an alternate route is not the answer. That is akin to burying your head in the sand and waiting until everything is just perfect and comes together in just the right way. We need to let go of our perfectionism and work toward practical, financially realistic solutions to our problems.