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
http://www.coloradodot.info
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 http://www.coloradodot.info/ 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)

http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/transitandrail/resource-materials-new/TRACdocument-SB09-108(FASTER)/view.
http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/BridgeEnterprise

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.

Momentum

8th and Grand 6-15-13

8th & Grand Ave, Glenwood Springs

I am a “play by the rules” kind of person.  I am the one in the office that loves the thought of creating policies and then developing procedures to follow.  Maybe this is one reason that I am drawn to serve on the local Planning Commission . . . that and I drive my family and a few others crazy with my never ending passion for planning . . . everything . . . gardens, vacations, dinners, cleaning  . . . whatever.  What I have learned over the years is that, for me, the planning is the fun and easy part.  Getting it done  . . . well that is another story.   Herein lies another problem.  I am also a bit of a perfectionist.  Ok, you may not know that from looking at my garden, or my home, or my blog.

The funny thing is that I am not alone – apparently.  In my short tenure – four years – with the Planning Commission and in working with other municipal committees, commissions, councils and personnel, I have come to realize that the planning, the visioning, the dreaming is the easy and fun part.  It is the roll-up-your-sleeves, grab a shovel, get your hands dirty putting those dusty plans into action that is infinitely more difficult.  Why is that?

Part of it is that we are all, to some degree, perfectionists.  We want whatever we do to be the Martha Stewart dinner party, the perfect vacation that our family will always remember, the garden that the neighbors oooh and aaah over.  For some of us, when the weeds start  taking over the garden, or the dust bunnies start reproducing in the corners, we throw up our hands and quit.  Things are not quite as easy as we envisioned.  We give up.

The other issue is that, whether you really want to admit it or not, we generally have a desire to be liked and to please people.  Face it, whether you are dealing with a family or a group of citizens, you are not going to make everyone happy all the time.  In fact, you will probably irritate almost everyone at one time or another.   Making decisions and taking a stand is quite frankly hard work.  My job as a Planning Commission member is aided by a few things, ordinances, codes, and laws – all those things I find comforting in their structure.  However, these same things  – and the beaurocracy that can be associated with it can be stifling to the most productive of those among us.

For many years I have heard the term “political will.”   “All it takes is political will.”  Maybe.  Is that the same as political power?   But “power” is a strong word that brings visions and potential of abuse.

Last week at the Glenwood Springs City Council meeting I heard another word – perhaps one more fitting to the events happening in Glenwood Springs right now.  That word is “momentum.”  Councilor Todd Leahy used it to describe what is happening in Glenwood Springs right now.  He is right.  Glenwood Springs is in a unique position at this moment in time.   I have rarely seen the synergy between entities that have never been at the same table before as I have in the last few months. We have CDOT, Union Pacific, RFTA, Garfield County,  city staff and city council, along with others,  in various stages of planning and doing . . . working on the hard stuff . . .  the stuff that forges long term agreements and clears the way for perhaps one of the most exciting times in Glenwood Spring history.  Will it please everyone? Not a chance.  But in my opinion, we would be negligent to miss this chance to get something done!

Turn! Turn! Turn!

Apricot Tree in full bloom!
Apricot Tree

Apricot Tree

Some of us remember the song, Turn! Turn! Turn! written by Pete Seeger and made popular by the Byrds in 1965.  The song is based on Ecclesiastes3:1-8 (NIV)

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

In my back yard, my fruit trees are blooming and a pair of little finches furiously building a nest above my front door.  My 17-year-old cat stands guard at the door waiting to be allowed outside to bask in the warmth of the sun on our deck. My very shaggy Goldendoodle and Cairn terrier are in desperate need of a clipping to keep them cool. Snow is giving way to rain. Yes, the seasons are changing and I welcome it with open arms.

Change is in the air at City Hall as well.  I welcome a new Mayor, Leo McKinney and thank Matt Steckler for his time while serving as Mayor.  Councilor Steckler continues to serve as a very effective member of City Council.  Both Councilor Steckler and now-Mayor McKinney ran unopposed in April’s election.  Congratulations go out to Stephen Bershenyi, our resident blacksmith, for winning re-election to a second term in City Council against Lyle Beattie.   Mr. Beattie should be commended for stepping up and throwing his hat in the ring.   I hope I am half as engaged and energetic as he is in a few years.  What a dedicated public servant he has been for Glenwood Springs over the years!

Dave Sturges, while willing and capable, did not succeed in his wish to become mayor. Still, he serves a very valuable leadership role on City Council.  While he has been known to pontificate, he brings a balancing opinion to this council. His extensive background and experience serves him well in this role. Besides, he is just a nice guy to talk with.

The remaining three City Council members, not up for re-election this year, continue to serve this community well, if not contentiously.  Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba bring a decidedly conservative perspective.  Both Councilor Leahy and Gamba bring a down-to-earth, realistic view of issues.  They have had the opportunity to see the concerns and issues from a developer/engineer side as well as from the apparently thankless position on the dais. I admire their straight-forward attitude.

Councilor Ted Edmonds is still the most enigmatic of our City Council members to me.  A numbers guy, I am told, he is probably the least loquacious member of Council, but he continues to surprise me.

At any rate – tonight’s City Council meeting had a slightly different tenor. There was a discussion of the Thompson Divide Lease Suspension of which there was unanimous Council support for an Appeal of the BLM decision, prepared by Pitkin County.

Of course the Access Control Plan (ACP) drew much of the usual crowd; John Haines, Karen Price, Hal Sundin, Cheryl Cain, Tony Rosa and Terry Stark.  While many complained that there is still no dialog between Council and the opponents of the ACP and/or the bridge, both Council and the group, most of which are part of the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue (C2SGA) seemed to be amenable to sitting down, possibly over a bowl of spaghetti –with proper public notice of course – and further discussing matters.  Of course there is always the phone – all of the City Council contact information is available on the City’s website:  http://www.cogs.us/council/contact.htm

And Councilor Bershenyi’s Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-Bershenyi-City-council-news/485499551498590?fref=ts

And of course – there is this blog – which welcomes comments and guest contributions.

Terry Stark raised a good point – one that I hope to address more satisfactorily than I have in the past – and that is:  Show me the facts that the ACP will help – or at least not damage – the local economy and local businesses.   Stay tuned.

Still there is a call for a Transportation Master plan.  Since I am such a new member of the Transportation Commission, I don’t feel qualified to comment other than to remind everyone that you are welcome to come to the City of Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission meetings.  The next one is Tuesday, May 7th, at 7:30 a.m. in the Engineering Department conference room on the 2nd floor of City Hall.  BYOC (Bring your own coffee . . . I learned that my first meeting . . .)

While I am on the subject of Boards and Commissions – here is a GOLDEN opportunity for you to be involved in your community . . .  The Planning and Zoning Commission is looking for two community members to serve as alternates on the Planning Commission.  We meet monthly and sometimes hold a work session as well.  It does require a commitment of time, but you will be making a valuable contribution to the community!  Contact me at 379-4849 or ktrauger@rof.net if you want more information.

One more reminder – a design charrette (fancy French term for meeting where everyone can comment and participate) for the Confluence area will be held May 21st through 23rd.  This is a very vital piece of our town and your recommendations, input, comments are critical.  More information will be forthcoming shortly.

Stay tuned as well for an update on the Grand Avenue Bridge project . . .

Spring is upon us in Glenwood Springs. And what a glorious time it is!   Here’s to a renewed energy toward cooperation, consensus building and moving forward.  There is a season . . . and a time for everything under Heaven . . .  and our time is now.

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: http://www.coloradodot.info/business/permits/accesspermits/references.

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.

A Case For a New Bridge . . . Now

Thank you to Chris McGovern for forwarding comments of Mr. Dick Prosence to my February 20th post https://ourtownglenwoodsprings.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/hot-under-the-collar/

Since I am neither an expert or an engineer, I put these comments out to several engineers and technical types in our community and received the following response from Michael Gamba, a professional engineer and land surveyor as well as a current member of City Council. This is his response (in italics):

*NEPA requires a comparison of ALL alternatives where a major federal action is undertaken.

Agreed, I believe that all alternatives to replacing the bridge were included in the evaluation, but only those alternatives that met the stated project purpose and need, which is appropriate.

*CDOT is limiting the alternatives being investigated.

Yes, as noted in the response above some alternatives that were outside of the stated project purpose and need were excluded from the evaluation. The stated project purpose is “to provide a safe, secure, and effective connection from downtown Glenwood Springs across the Colorado River and I-70 to the historic Glenwood Hot Springs area.” For example, this purpose does exclude the option of evaluating a bridge from the I-70 116 interchange across the Colorado River and RR to the confluence area, which is the preferred route for most bypass proponents. The confluence area is clearly not downtown Glenwood Springs, therefore it was excluded from consideration.

The other reason that this option was not considered is that it is my understanding that this option would be excluded by the funding source, which is the Colorado Bridge Enterprise Fund (CBE). The purpose of the CBE is to finance, repair, reconstruct and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated “poor.” Therefore, the planning, design and construction of this option would require another funding source, which is most likely not available at this time or in the reasonably near future.

*The existing bridge has been there for nearly 60 years. Maintenance is often required on old bridges.

Agreed, but I’m not sure what the point is. This bridge is rated “poor” by the CBE and as such qualifies for repair or replacement with funds from the CBE. If it was not rated poor, the funds for the repair (or replacement) would have to come from some other source. Regardless of the fact that this bridge is 60 years old, it also has a significant number of physical or geometric deficiencies such as: 9.5 foot lane widths (code is 12-feet wide); vehicular clearance over 7th street; clearance over the railroad; potential for scour around the footings in the river; and the configuration of the bridge piers adjacent to the I-70 on-ramp and off-ramp at the 116 interchange which results in deficient ramp lengths and configurations and presents a very serious safety issue. The replacement of this bridge will correct all of these issues.

If the point of this comment is to infer that instead of replacing the old bridge, we should just continue to maintain it, then that is an issue that can be debated. In that regard, the “no build” option is still on the table, and will be considered in the NEPA process.

*If there is a scour problem or crumbling concrete, work on those problems.

This point appears to simply be a continuation of the previous comment, and I believe is sufficiently addressed with the previous comment.

*Locking 40,000-50,000 vehicles (vehicle trips) onto Grand Avenue including 4,000-5,000 dump trucks, gasoline tankers or other hazardous loads onto Grand Avenue is the overriding issue.

I believe that this comment is provided as intentional misinformation on the part of Mr. Prosence. Whether we replace the Grand Avenue Bridge or not DOES NOT PRECLUDE the possibility of a future bypass, alternate route, or the construction of additional city streets and roads that will provide more interconnectivity and reduce traffic congestion. Furthermore, the point about 4,000 to 5,000 dump trucks, gasoline tankers or other hazardous loads being on Grand Avenue is fairly ignorant in my opinion. Does Mr. Prosence think that it is better to put all of these types of vehicles on the Roaring Fork River? Or perhaps on Midland Avenue through a residential neighborhood? Both of which are the only reasonable alignments for a future bypass. Whether we build a bypass or not, these types of vehicles will still be going through the City of Glenwood Springs. There is no alignment or location in Glenwood where a bypass can be constructed that isn’t going to significantly affect some portion of our community.

*When I was involved in moving the railroad yards across the river, the subject of inadequate clearance never came up, not once.

I suspect that this may very well be true, but again I’m not sure what the point is. I don’t think that the clearance over the railroad is the over-riding geometric or functional deficiency that is pushing the reconstruction of the bridge. I don’t believe that there is any single design deficiency that is necessarily the “over-riding” concern, but collectively the replacement of the bridge does resolve a fairly significant number of issues as noted above.

Personally, if I were to rate the current deficiencies in order of those of greatest concern, I would put the narrow travel lanes as number one. The width of these lanes do not allow larger vehicles such as semi-trucks, RVs, and buses to safely drive in a single lane. In fact, due to the narrowness of the lanes, it is the current RFTA policy to prohibit their buses from using the Grand Avenue bridge. This results in a reduced efficiency of our public transportation system.

The issue that I believe presents the second greatest concern is the proximity of the bridge piers to the I-70 ramps. To my knowledge no one has yet been seriously injured or died in an accident due to the reduced length of the ramps, but I have heard many anecdotes from individuals describing very close calls. I do believe that it is just a matter of time before someone entering I-70 eastbound from the 116 interchange is injured or killed due to the insufficient length of the on-ramp.

*If it such a big deal, why wasn’t it brought up then?

I personally don’t think that it is a big deal (see comment above).

*The narrow bridge has functioned for over 50 years.

The bridge was originally constructed in 1953 as a two lane bridge with sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. Under this configuration, the width of the driving lanes were not reduced from the code at that time. In 1969, the sidewalks were removed and the bridge was reconfigured into its current configuration with four sub-standard driving lanes. Therefore, the bridge has only existed in its current configuration for 42 years, not 50 years. While the bridge in this configuration has functioned, I would contend that it is certainly a matter of opinion as to whether it has functioned well. I am personally aware of many instances where vehicles have struck the guard rails, have lost side mirrors due to close calls with oncoming vehicles, and have impacted either on-coming vehicles or vehicles travelling in the same direction due to the sub-standard driving lane widths. Additionally, as noted above, larger vehicles cannot safely drive in a single lane, therefore the functional capacity of the bridge is impaired.

*Why not delay it’s replacement until these other issues are resolved.

The short answer here is that if we wait to do anything in Glenwood Springs that starts to correct our transportation infrastructure problems until such time as we have a bypass, then from a realistic standpoint we will never do anything. Even though the significant majority of the citizens with whom I have spoken recognize the obvious logic of pursuing this opportunity to replace our decrepit, deficient Grand Avenue Bridge with one that can add many benefits to the city, this project alone has generated a not insignificant amount of controversy, to which Mr. Prosence is contributing. The long answer is described below.

Imagine what would happen if at tonight’s city council meeting, the council voted to approve a resolution adopting the railroad corridor along the east bank of the Roaring Fork River as our preferred bypass alignment, and we were going to start the process through CDOT and the Feds to pursue funding for the design and construction of the bypass. If everyone thinks that the bridge and the Access Control Plan are generating a lot of controversy now, the current public outcry would look like a blip compared to the angry mobs that would descend on Town Hall to oppose such an action. It’s my personal observation that the citizenry in Glenwood is irrevocably split on the issue of the bypass. Approximately one-third want to build the bypass along the east bank of the Roaring Fork River and the railroad corridor, approximately one-third want to build the bypass along Midland Avenue, and approximately one-third want to build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything. And in my experience almost everyone is very passionate about their individual position on the issue. Therefore, any solution decided by any sitting council is going to enrage approximately two-thirds of all citizens.

But, let’s go a little further into this fantasy. Let’s assume that council decides where the bypass should be constructed and 100% of the entire town is fully supportive of the decision. At that point, we begin looking for funding. The estimated costs for such a bypass range from approximately $250 million to around $500 million. This amount will never be affordable to the City of Glenwood so we would have to obtain funding from federal or state sources. The most realistic estimate of the time-frame when that funding might become available from either state or federal sources is at best 20 years and most likely 30 years.

Therefore, under this best case scenario, in which the council decides on a specific bypass alignment (extremely unlikely), and the town overwhelmingly supports that specific alignment (which is a fantasy), and the funding to build the project is made available in 20 years (unlikely), and it would probably take 2 to 3 years to construct the project – then we would have a bypass somewhere around 22 to 23 years from now. At that point the Grand Avenue Bridge would be 83 years old, may no longer be structurally sound, and the traffic volumes on Grand Avenue would have increased to the point where all of the measures identified in the Access Control Plan would have been implemented, no matter how undesirable they are.

This does not sound like a reasonable common-sense plan to me. I believe that we currently have an opportunity to replace a vital piece of our city infrastructure through a process in which the opportunities for citizen input and involvement are huge, where the potential impacts during construction to the city, including to our businesses and our citizens, are being scrutinized and evaluated and will be absolutely minimized, and where the end result will be something that everyone will cherish and appreciate. As a citizen of Glenwood Springs for 41 years of my life, I believe that we would be insane not to take advantage of this opportunity.

Sincerely,

Gamba & Associates, Inc.
Michael Gamba, P.E. & P.L.S.

Let me tell you about OUR town – Glenwood Springs Colorado.

Postcard sent to my Great-Uncle from Glenwood Springs in 1907

Postcard sent to my Great-Uncle from Glenwood Springs in 1907

Let me tell you about OUR town – Glenwood Springs Colorado.

We are a small town set in the heart of the Rocky Mountains at the convergence of two magnificent rivers; the Colorado and the Roaring Fork Rivers. We have a rich history that includes Indians (is that the pc correct term? I don’t wish to offend), explorers, frontiersmen, gamblers, railroads, presidents, lawmen, outlaws and well . . . more on that at a later time. Those who know us now generally know us for our hot springs and pool, our caves, our skiing, our rafting, our biking and hiking, our hunting, and our central location to even more fun stuff. The 2010 census put our population at 9,614. Rand McNally and USA Today named our town as the “Most Fun Town in America” in 2011.

What Makes Us Even MORE Special?

But what makes Glenwood Springs well . . . . “Glenwood Springs” is OUR people and our passion!

Every community has some of both, right?

True! However, in the coming weeks and months, I hope you will agree there are excellent reasons we have to be passionate and protective of our town – while continuing to see it improve and progress.

We are a bit of an eclectic mix of native Coloradoans and those who have “chosen” Glenwood Springs as their home. Just read the opinion page and letters to the editor of our local newspaper, the Glenwood Post Independent – although I often question the “independent” part – and you will see that we are a vocal crowd.

So . . . why start a blog about Glenwood Springs?

First – I love the written word and quite frankly, I don’t think or talk very quickly on my feet . . . Although I have Irish roots, the eloquence and quantity of blarney somehow eludes me.

Second – and more importantly – I am an enthusiastic advocate of Glenwood Springs and making it the very best place it can be for all of us to work and to live – as well as to visit. But I am also realistic. I know that there are issues, concerns and challenges that Glenwood Springs must face and we are in a particularly challenging time right now. I “serve” the community by acting on some city boards and commissions – not to the extent that some in our community are involved, but to the extent I feel I can be of service and work for solutions.

Over and over, in meeting after meeting, I hear people say they don’t feel they have a voice. My hope for this blog is to be a springboard for discussion and involvement from those in the community who find it difficult to “get involved” in the traditional sense. I also hope that those who are part of the city, county and region and state as elected officials or appointed members will weigh in on this blog and share their outlook. I hope to throw out some items for thought, perhaps give my viewpoint, and I welcome you to challenge those thoughts, give me your own ideas and provide feedback. I would also love to include some “guest bloggers” on this site. Interested? Let me know! After all, this is truly OUR TOWN and we need to work together to keep it the great place it is.