The project team for the State Highway 82 Grand Avenue replacement bridge through Glenwood Springs has further defined the elements being studied in the environmental assessment process, including a new pedestrian bridge and a signalized intersection at 6th and Laurel streets.
“A new pedestrian bridge supports CDOT’s mission to provide the best multi-modal transportation system,” CDOT Region 3 East Program Engineer Joe Elsen said. “It’s also consistent with state statute requiring the project to address bicyclist and pedestrian needs.”
The new pedestrian bridge is being considered as a design option for addressing bicyclist and pedestrian needs across the Colorado River, I-70 and the Union Pacific Railroad. After additional evaluation of how the new Grand Avenue bridge can be constructed, the project team has found many advantages to a new pedestrian bridge. One advantage to building a new pedestrian bridge is that it could carry the utility lines currently carried by the existing Grand Avenue Bridge. Because the utility service cannot be interrupted during construction of the new Grand Avenue Bridge, either a new bridge or the use of an existing bridge would be needed.
The existing pedestrian bridge would not provide adequate clearance for the utilities; running them under the river is not a viable option, and relocating the utilities to the Two Rivers Park pedestrian bridge would result in high costs and construction impacts. Relocating the utilities onto a new bridge designed for both utilities and pedestrians could provide overall cost savings to the project and reduce construction impacts, CDOT says.
The project team also found that the existing pedestrian bridge precludes the proposed improvements to the I-70 eastbound on-ramp because there is not enough clearance under the pedestrian bridge to construct an acceleration lane. It was also found that the width of the existing pedestrian bridge would not meet existing and future needs. Future growth in pedestrian traffic and bicycle use indicates that by 2035, the pedestrian bridge should be about 20 ft wide, which is 6 to 10 ft wider than the existing pedestrian bridge. A new pedestrian bridge could also be designed with a longer span.
The longer span would provide an area to replace Hot Springs Pool parking spaces that would be lost to the new vehicular bridge. A longer span would also reduce the relatively steep grade of the existing pedestrian bridge to less than a 5% grade. A new connection on the north side would also provide a better opportunity for improved connections to existing sidewalks and trails, preferred by the Glenwood Springs River Commission.
One other benefit of a new pedestrian bridge, which was recognized by members of the Stakeholders Advisory Group (SAG), is that it could be designed to provide an aesthetic entrance to Glenwood Springs and fit with the new Grand Avenue Bridge. Many SAG members think it would be better to design a simple highway bridge along with a nicer-looking pedestrian bridge.
In reviewing the new pedestrian bridge alternative, the Grand Avenue project team noted that a pedestrian bridge would address almost all of the project criteria, including better multimodal connectivity, improved safety, better consistency with regional planning, improved multimodal transportation operations, the potential to be more in harmony with the community, the potential to reduce overall construction costs, minimize impacts to private property and reduce overall impacts.
It was also noted that the existing pedestrian bridge could be re-used at another location because of the way it was constructed. The project team has also identified a signalized intersection at 6th and Laurel that will be evaluated in the environmental assessment.
This intersection type was selected instead of the roundabout because it would provide more direct pedestrian connections, provide good traffic operations at the 6th and Laurel intersection, offer a good opportunity for an entry feature into Glenwood Springs, could be constructed with fewer impacts to traffic during construction, would use more of the existing infrastructure, and would provide better access to local businesses.
The new alternatives, along with pedestrian bridge concepts and Grand Avenue bridge types, will be presented at an upcoming public open house on January 9 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Glenwood Springs Community Center on 100 Wulfsohn Rd. This is another opportunity for the public to learn more about the project and provide input about how the project will look and function.