Officials in Glenwood Springs want to know what residents think about a new bridge. No, not the Grand Avenue Bridge over I- 70. The city is taking comments on what would be a new way to get from Highway 82 to a certain part of town.
Reporter: Getting from Highway 82 to southwest Glenwood Springs can be a real pain… especially when there’s traffic. So there’s a plan to add a new bridge. It would go from the highway, over the Roaring Fork River to Airport Road on the West Side of town. Terri Partch is with the Glenwood Springs engineering department.
Terri Partch: “The city thinks this is a really important project, we would like to move it forward in the fastest manner we can.”
Reporter: Part of that is because the only bridge on the south side of town is too small to handle current traffic. And studies show by 2015 it’ll really be maxed out. So Glenwood Springs wants to build another bridge.
Partch: “What it will do is allow a secondary access from South Glenwood and the Four Mile Canyon area up in Garfield County. For those residents it will improve emergency access in the event of fire and those kinds of things.”
Reporter: The areas near the proposed South Bridge are likely neighborhoods to get new homes. And the idea is to also address the likely increase in traffic on the south of Glenwood springs, too… both from homes and skiers and snowboarders.
Partch: “Up in the Four Mile Canyon area right now we have a proposal for annexation right now, and back in 2007 there was a proposal for additional development at the ski area and we think that those kinds of proposals will come back.”
Reporter: Glenwood Springs is also looking at completely rebuilding the Grand Avenue Bridge, from downtown to the Interstate 70 interchange. Partch says the two projects aren’t connected… in fact, the bridge in downtown has guaranteed funding. Not so for the proposed new South Bridge. That project doesn’t have construction money attached… so, Partch says Glenwood Springs is looking at other ways to fund the project. In the meantime, the city is going through the regular planning process, which includes taking comments on the environmental assessment. So far, one of the biggest is from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. RFTA wants to make sure the bridge can accommodate a rail service, if that’s put back on what is now the Rio Grande Trail. And then there’s a rumor Partch wants to dispel… about whether the proposed South Bridge would be a fast and easy to way to get to I-70.
Partch: “I think there is come concern that the new bridge might serve as a bypass option, and really that isn’t the intention of the bridge.”
Reporter: That’s because the road that eventually winds back to I-70 can’t hold much traffic – and has a very slow speed limit. Glenwood Springs is taking comments about the South Bridge through Thursday November 21s. If all goes smoothly, design would begin this spring.