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GarCo Approves First Big Local Check for New Bridge

Sep 15, 2014

A new Grand Avenue Bridge is one step closer to becoming a reality. Garfield County Commissioners have voted to contribute three million dollars towards the project -- the first big check from a local government. The support is becoming essential for the project-- and Commissioners were quick to say the Upper Roaring Fork Valley should also pitch in. 

Commissioners met yesterday [Monday] and clearly had already gone through the pros and cons of whether or not to support the bridge. Commissioner Tom Jankovsky.

“I’ve been a supporter of getting this done, I think it’s important. I think if we don’t get this done now, the next time this comes around is when the bridge is no longer functional, and I truly think that is a possibility.”

Overall the project will cost upwards of a hundred million dollars... the majority will come from the state but there is a 10 to fifteen million dollar shortfall.  Garfield County will now kick in three million, split into a million dollars a year starting next year. The money specifically goes towards the new pedestrian bridge, which frees up money for the traditional car and truck bridge. Commissioners wanted to make sure the overall project would definitely go through, even if the price tag keeps going up.

Leslie Bethel: “Oh, I was really excited!”

That’s Leslie Bethel. She’s director of Glenwood’s downtown development authority. Bethel disagrees with one of the key arguments against the replacement… that it might make downtown too busy with traffic-- and unfriendly.

 “I honestly don’t think that’s it’s going to degrade the quality.  I think that if it’s done thoughtfully, it’s gonna be an attribute to our downtown.”

Glenwood Springs is considering also  contributing about three million, which would be a significant amount for the city. Further up the Roaring Fork Valley, Eagle County Commissioners is looking a three hundred thousand. Pitkin County Commissioners agreed they’ll help pay for a new bridge, but couldn’t commit… at least, not yet… to a half a million dollars. That’s how much CDOT asked for. During yesterday’s meeting, Garfield County Commissioners made it clear it was important to them to see the Upper Valley be more financially involved. Commissioner Mike Samson.

 “You need to make, request to both Aspen and Pitkin County for more funds. Those two entities will benefit greatly from this bridge, and I think they need to be asked to put a little more skin in the game.”

CDOT made that case to Aspen’s City Council last night. Officials in Aspen, Glenwood, and Eagle County will decide in the coming months whether and how much to chip in.