Ground Breaking News for Downtown

 

As the weather breaks, so does the ground for some snazzy improvements to downtown Glenwood Springs!  So what is in the works?

  1. 7th Street from Grand Avenue to Blake will see wider sidewalks
  2. The parking structure at 9th and Cooper and the parking area between the Fire Department and Methodist church will see sidewalk and landscape improvements
  3. The Alley on the west side of Grand, between 7th and 8th Street – from Grand to Colorado will be “transformed”Downtown_Improvements_001

7th Street

Brew Pub expanded sidewalkNo doubt, the 7th Street project gets top billing.  Designed to double the width of the sidewalks and provide a venue for outdoor, café-style dining, along the south side of 7th Street between Grand Avenue and Blake, this project is not without controversy.  Among other things, the project requires the removal of several parking spaces, most of which will be made up with the revision to the parking area south of the fire station.  Leslie Bethel, Executive Director of the DDA also noted that the minor loss is parking is also offset by several new parking areas in the downtown, including the new parking structure at 9th and Cooper and the CMC parking garage, which is available to the public in the evening and on weekends. Additionally, the county has completed surface parking areas along Colorado, between 7th & 8th str7th Street Sidewalk Expansion 2eets.  Bethel also emphasized the DDA’s efforts to “spread the improvements around downtown.”  This project should draw locals and visitors to the downtown to dine, shop and linger to enjoy the atmosphere of this unique area.  The benefits should be felt throughout the downtown and all of Glenwood.  Most of the restaurants in this area plan to remain open during construction.  Glenwood Canyon Brewpub will be closed from April 7 to April 23.

Alley Improvements

Alley_ImprovementsPerhaps one of the most delightful opportunities associated with this project are the alleyway improvements to take place between the Silver Club building and 711 Grand.  The DDA and 711 Grand LLC have partnered to make significant improvements to this often used pedestrian access from parking on Colorado to businesses on Grand.  The DDA will resurface the alley, including a concrete walkway with brick detailing. The owners and tenants of 711 Grand LLC, which will include two new restaurants, The Lost Cajun and Smoke, are funding other improvements including lighting, overhead string lighting, railings, planters and furniture.  The Lost Cajun and Smoke are set to open in the coming months.  Improvements to this area have been discussed for years and these improvements, along with the new restaurants will likely create a charming setting that will be a jewel for the downtown area.

Parking Structure/Parking Lot Landscaping

Pargking_Garage_landscapingThe new parking structure at 9th and Cooper and the parking area south of the fire station along Cooper are well used but lack the character that is desired for the downtown area.  The DDA is planning a reconfiguration of the parking area along Cooper between 8th and 9th to add 10 parking spaces as well as lighting, landscaping, seating and other improvements that should add to the attractiveness and vitality along this area. According to the DDA, this project should be complete in early summer, just in time for the Downtown Market every Tuesday evening in this area.

Funding for these projects totaled $1 million, $800,000 of which was a grant from the Garfield County Oil and Gas Mitigation Fund and $200,000 from the DDA general fund.  The City of Glenwood is also a partner in the project with in-kind public works support.  All the projects are scheduled for completion by early June.

What’s next?

With this season’s ground breaking news, the DDA, Garfield County and the City of Glenwood should be commended for making these projects happen.  Those of us watching improvements in downtown and elsewhere in Glenwood are anxiously asking, what’s next?  Bethel indicated that there are some great plans in the works including a master plan for the alleys, the promenade on the north side of 7th with  connection to the confluence area.  She stated that the DDA is working on some “great ideas” for downtown area on the north side of the Colorado River, along 6th

What do you think should be included in the DDA’s vision of downtown?  Personally, I would like to see some improvements along Cooper, between 7th and 8th as well as along Grand and 8th Street on both sides of Grand. Are there other areas of Glenwood Springs, where smaller improvements could lead to increased energy and life in our community?  If you have a suggestion, let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correction/Clarification to What do we do with the traffic . . .

Correction/Clarification to  “What do we do with the traffic” posted on March 4, 2014

http://www.ourtownglenwoodsprings.com/8th-street-connection-introduction/

Per Craig Gaskill, Grand Avenue Bridge consulting engineer:

“The Grand Avenue bridge project is not planning on modifying the Sunlight Bridge at 27th Street. Previously, when the Grand Avenue bridge project planned to use the bridge as the detour route, therefore placing SH 82 truck traffic on this bridge, we planned some modifications to better line up the truck loading with the existing girders. With the new 8th Street detour plan, this modification isn’t necessary.”

My apologies for the misinformation!

So . . . what do we do with the traffic?

Question.  Where does all the traffic go during the Grand Avenue Bridge construction?

This question may not keep you up at night, but I guarantee it is keeping some folks awake.

Even with what the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) terms an “accelerated bridge construction” dealing with the day to day challenge of getting from the north side of the Colorado River to the south side and back may be –shall we say – a “challenge.”  Accelerated bridge construction would necessitate the bridge being totally closed to traffic for approximately two months under a best case scenario. 

So what is the solution to getting people into and through Glenwood Springs during this potentially painful period?

Introducing . . .  the “8th Street Connection”

The current expectation is that CDOT will be allowed to temporarily cut the railroad track in the wye area and build a temporary detour from the bridge that spans the Roaring Fork north of Veltus Park to 8th street, in front of Glenwood Springs City Hall and the Garfield County Courthouse.  This will come with the approval of the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR), Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Temp_8th_Street_Connection

Graphic courtesy of Craig Gaskill, and Jacobs Engineering

Currently, vehicles coming from Midland Avenue into the downtown must use an underpass along 7th Street.  This underpass does not meet minimum CDOT height and width requirements. Trucks are the biggest concern. In order to use 7th Street, the street would need to be lowered or the tracks raised.  This connection is also a very dangerous path for pedestrians and bicyclists.


Current 7th Street Connection to Midland Avenue 6-15-13 - SMALL

It is anticipated that Midland Avenue to 27th Street and the Sunlight Bridge will also carry a fair amount of detour traffic, particularly for those heading up-valley.  However, there are concerns with the Sunlight Bridge.  CDOT is planning some improvements to that bridge in anticipation of construction.

An 8th Street Connection also affords the City of Glenwood an additional opportunity to accomplish a major goal – a permanent connection linking Midland Avenue to 8th Street.   City staff and City Council members, in a recent workshop with the city’s Transportation Ted_quoteCommission, made it clear that this 8th Street Connection now tops the list of city priorities.  According to City Council member Ted Edmonds, “The City Council has been very clear to staff — this is the number one priority. This is the biggest deal that is on our plate. This is the thing that should take precedence over other projects, if necessary.”

With so many stakeholders in the process,  there are many loose ends and unknowns.  However,  it is also an excellent example of the partnership between Glenwood Springs and CDOT and, potentially, others that could be beneficial to all.

 

What’s the big deal?Question_Mark

You may wonder why this is truly a BIG deal for the city. Here are seven reasons city staff, city council and the transportation commission must continue to make this the top priority:

  1. A permanent connection increases the connectivity and improves the circulation within the city of Glenwood Springs, a goal of the Comprehensive Plan, the Corridor Optimization Plan and the Long Range Transportation Plan
  2. Without at least a temporary connection, CDOT could opt to scrap the accelerated bridge construction in favor of a more drawn out process, one that could last 12 to 18 months but would allow traffic to still use the Grand Avenue Bridge or
  3. Midland Avenue to 27th Street could be used as the primary detour route for trucks which would impact the residents along Midland to a greater degree
  4. The city would lose the opportunity to have some of the costs for a permanent connection paid for by CDOT in association with the Grand Avenue Bridge project
  5. It will greatly improve pedestrian and bicycle safety from the Red Mountain area and Two River’s Park to the downtown area
  6. It will connect the downtown to the Confluence area and the potential commercial, housing, and recreational uses that may be developed.
  7. This connection has the potential to positively affect RFTA by providing a more direct route and easier passage for their buses.  

The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on this connection at some point in the future as it moves through City Council.  However, you don’t have to wait!  Please take a few minutes to let me know what you think now!