Glenwood Springs City Engineer Terri Partch presented the city’s ongoing transportation study and a South Bridge project update to the Garfield County commissioners Tuesday morning.
“In Glenwood, we see the growth in traffic, especially with what this data shows us, so much of it is just intrinsic to Garfield County,” Shelley Kaup, Glenwood Springs City Council member said while co-presenting with Partch. “So what can we do within the county to help our whole community travel and commute better?”
Partch presented the study, along with progress on the South Bridge project and the LoVa (Lower Valley) trail efforts in South Canyon. The same information was presented to Glenwood Springs City Council on Feb. 2.
County commissioners made it clear that they had no interest in owning or maintaining the South Bridge, nor were they interested in helping to fund it. They suggested looking for more federal funding instead.
“On South Bridge, we just passed a really big milestone; the state, a week or so ago, allowed us to go to the right-of-way acquisition phase for South Bridge,” Partch said. “We had our right-of-way acquisition kickoff meeting yesterday, and we’re going to begin that process and we are fully funded with the project through this year.”
She said that by the end of this year, the city will be complete on design and they are anticipating to start a bidding process in the fall of 2025. Construction funding is currently what the city is hoping to find.
Commissioner John Martin had a few suggestions, and questioned why the city won’t use the right-of-way the county already granted for the Cardiff Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Roaring Fork River and connects the Cardiff neighborhood and Midland Avenue to South Grand Avenue.
City Public Information Officer Bryana Starbuck answered in an email after the Tuesday meeting that the Cardiff Bridge was considered, but after a thorough Environmental Assessment, the location of Cardiff Bridge was eliminated as an option.
“From an evacuation standpoint, it is more valuable to have that access point closer to the areas that may need to be evacuated,” she wrote.
The city is currently pursuing annexation of the right-of-way for South Bridge because the area is not within city limits, and the county has no interest in maintaining it.
Commissioner Martin also said he couldn’t support funds for South Bridge because of what seemed to be a miscommunication about the fate of the nearby traffic light at County Road 154 (Buffalo Valley) and Highway 82 with the new South Bridge interchange, which he doesn’t want removed. Partch clarified that the city is not proposing to remove the traffic light at that intersection.
Another concern he stated was that it would cause a large amount of unwanted growth up Four Mile in the coming decades, the same way Midland Avenue caused so much development and growth over the years.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky showed interest in the construction of the bridge, but no interest in funding it.
Partch was not requesting funds involving the transportation study, but the commissioners did share some opinions on the matter, and where they might be able to help.
The main solutions that the commissioners all agreed on was more public transit to help with congestion through Glenwood Springs and Colorado Highway 82, along with getting more people to ride transit.
Enhancing the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Grand Hogback Route was mentioned by Jankovsky as a viable option to reduce single-passenger commuter cars traveling from West Garfield County during morning traffic hours.
Commissioner Mike Samson agreed with needing more transit and more people actually riding transit, but he also suggested getting Pitkin County involved since it is a lot of their employees commuting.
“We really need to get Aspen City Council and the people of Aspen and the county commissioners of Pitkin County to wake up and smell the coffee,” he said. “How many people go up there for a job every day? A lot of that can be alleviated if they have affordable or attainable housing.”
He said he knew how hard it is to get the attention of Pitkin County and Aspen, and joked that maybe it could help if they closed the roads heading upvalley.
Another suggestion by Samson was to convince other municipalities to get their residents to work in their local towns, instead of everyone working a town up from the town they live in.
As for the LoVa Trail, the commissioners offered to talk to U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s office for federal funding and having the trail extended through the western part of the county.
Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at [email protected] or 970-384-9131.