Turn! Turn! Turn!

Apricot Tree in full bloom!
Apricot Tree

Apricot Tree

Some of us remember the song, Turn! Turn! Turn! written by Pete Seeger and made popular by the Byrds in 1965.  The song is based on Ecclesiastes3:1-8 (NIV)

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

In my back yard, my fruit trees are blooming and a pair of little finches furiously building a nest above my front door.  My 17-year-old cat stands guard at the door waiting to be allowed outside to bask in the warmth of the sun on our deck. My very shaggy Goldendoodle and Cairn terrier are in desperate need of a clipping to keep them cool. Snow is giving way to rain. Yes, the seasons are changing and I welcome it with open arms.

Change is in the air at City Hall as well.  I welcome a new Mayor, Leo McKinney and thank Matt Steckler for his time while serving as Mayor.  Councilor Steckler continues to serve as a very effective member of City Council.  Both Councilor Steckler and now-Mayor McKinney ran unopposed in April’s election.  Congratulations go out to Stephen Bershenyi, our resident blacksmith, for winning re-election to a second term in City Council against Lyle Beattie.   Mr. Beattie should be commended for stepping up and throwing his hat in the ring.   I hope I am half as engaged and energetic as he is in a few years.  What a dedicated public servant he has been for Glenwood Springs over the years!

Dave Sturges, while willing and capable, did not succeed in his wish to become mayor. Still, he serves a very valuable leadership role on City Council.  While he has been known to pontificate, he brings a balancing opinion to this council. His extensive background and experience serves him well in this role. Besides, he is just a nice guy to talk with.

The remaining three City Council members, not up for re-election this year, continue to serve this community well, if not contentiously.  Todd Leahy and Mike Gamba bring a decidedly conservative perspective.  Both Councilor Leahy and Gamba bring a down-to-earth, realistic view of issues.  They have had the opportunity to see the concerns and issues from a developer/engineer side as well as from the apparently thankless position on the dais. I admire their straight-forward attitude.

Councilor Ted Edmonds is still the most enigmatic of our City Council members to me.  A numbers guy, I am told, he is probably the least loquacious member of Council, but he continues to surprise me.

At any rate – tonight’s City Council meeting had a slightly different tenor. There was a discussion of the Thompson Divide Lease Suspension of which there was unanimous Council support for an Appeal of the BLM decision, prepared by Pitkin County.

Of course the Access Control Plan (ACP) drew much of the usual crowd; John Haines, Karen Price, Hal Sundin, Cheryl Cain, Tony Rosa and Terry Stark.  While many complained that there is still no dialog between Council and the opponents of the ACP and/or the bridge, both Council and the group, most of which are part of the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue (C2SGA) seemed to be amenable to sitting down, possibly over a bowl of spaghetti –with proper public notice of course – and further discussing matters.  Of course there is always the phone – all of the City Council contact information is available on the City’s website:  http://www.cogs.us/council/contact.htm

And Councilor Bershenyi’s Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephen-Bershenyi-City-council-news/485499551498590?fref=ts

And of course – there is this blog – which welcomes comments and guest contributions.

Terry Stark raised a good point – one that I hope to address more satisfactorily than I have in the past – and that is:  Show me the facts that the ACP will help – or at least not damage – the local economy and local businesses.   Stay tuned.

Still there is a call for a Transportation Master plan.  Since I am such a new member of the Transportation Commission, I don’t feel qualified to comment other than to remind everyone that you are welcome to come to the City of Glenwood Springs Transportation Commission meetings.  The next one is Tuesday, May 7th, at 7:30 a.m. in the Engineering Department conference room on the 2nd floor of City Hall.  BYOC (Bring your own coffee . . . I learned that my first meeting . . .)

While I am on the subject of Boards and Commissions – here is a GOLDEN opportunity for you to be involved in your community . . .  The Planning and Zoning Commission is looking for two community members to serve as alternates on the Planning Commission.  We meet monthly and sometimes hold a work session as well.  It does require a commitment of time, but you will be making a valuable contribution to the community!  Contact me at 379-4849 or ktrauger@rof.net if you want more information.

One more reminder – a design charrette (fancy French term for meeting where everyone can comment and participate) for the Confluence area will be held May 21st through 23rd.  This is a very vital piece of our town and your recommendations, input, comments are critical.  More information will be forthcoming shortly.

Stay tuned as well for an update on the Grand Avenue Bridge project . . .

Spring is upon us in Glenwood Springs. And what a glorious time it is!   Here’s to a renewed energy toward cooperation, consensus building and moving forward.  There is a season . . . and a time for everything under Heaven . . .  and our time is now.

Fear, Facts and Frustration

Grand Avenue Bridge April 5, 2013

Grand Avenue Bridge April 5, 2013

Have you ever had this happen to you?  You are sound asleep in the middle of the night and something wakes you up . . . and then the good ‘ol brain kicks into gear.  At two or three in the morning it is rarely the rational, logical brain, but more often the fearful brain that takes normally mundane issues and turns them into insurmountable obstacles.  When that happens, these problems rarely resolve by tossing and turning and agonizing over worst case scenarios.  I simply lose sleep with no sensible solution to any of my perceived hurdles and what is worse, my tossing and turning affects my husband and things snowball creating not only a miserable night but a lousy day for two people due to lack of sleep.

For me, a better solution is to quietly get out of bed, sometimes make a pot of coffee and try to engage my coherent brain and tackle the issues.  For me this process starts with identifying and naming the real problems.  Next comes some brainstorming about potential solutions, both purely reasonable and totally off-the-wall. What usually follows is research.  I need to understand the problem before moving forward with a decision.  Sometimes this process is short. Often middle-of-the-night-issues become non-issues when my rational brain kicks in.

Fear

Attending last Thursday’s City Council meeting was a little like waking up in the middle of the night with a million thoughts and fears running rampant.  Currently we seem to be a town paralyzed by fear.  This is not a new occurrence.  This is part of Glenwood’s history. We want to do it right . . . or perfectly . . . or not at all.  Usually we end up with “not at all.”

Some concerns voiced at last Thursday’s meeting  are absolutely prudent,  some are irrational or over stated in my opinion and some have been addressed and resolved but just keep sneaking back in.   Do not misunderstand.  I am not advocating rushing headlong into decisions without proper consideration, understanding, thought and due diligence.  But it is time to name and identify the fears and deal with them.

Some of the fears, concerns and questions broached at the City Council meeting – or since –  include:

  • Traffic will be doubled and tripled if a new bridge is built without a bypass
  • Traffic speed will be increased throughout Grand Avenue turning it into another I-70 corridor
  • The proposed bridge will be an L.A. style off-ramp
  • The bridge does not fit with the history and surroundings of Glenwood
  • The town cannot survive without a bridge for two months
  • The NEPA process has been circumvented by CDOT
  • Many local businesses will close and be replaced by marijuana shops and tattoo parlors
  • Tourism will decline
  • Oil and gas trucks will speed down Grand Avenue
  • City Council is disregarding work by prior councils
  • There is no comprehensive plan for transportation
  • Grand Avenue is doomed to be a mass transit corridor
  • Has CDOT segmented this project by separating the bridge project from the ACP and from a potential bypass?
  • Is this something that can or should be decided by a vote of citizens?
  • Exactly what powers does CDOT have and what triggers them
  • Delays in the ACP could cause additional cost to the city to update traffic studies and restart the public process
  • Could the “police powers” that CDOT states they have make the IGA null and void
  • Who has control over the traffic light sequences throughout Grand Avenue?
  • No one will use an “Underground tunnel” for pedestrians in the middle of Grand between 7th and 8th
  • CDOT is going to do whatever it wants no matter what Glenwood does

Identify the problem

So what is at the heart of this alarm?  It is time to name them.

  • Pedestrian/bicycle safety
  • Economic impact on merchants and businesses
  • Environmental impact
  • Financial ramifications to the entire city
  • Safety concerns about the bridge
  • Preservation of the history of Glenwood Springs
  • Glenwood’s image and branding
  • Volume of traffic
  • Loss of local control

The subjects named above, and there may be more, are all absolutely legitimate issues and Glenwood’s citizens are right to be concerned and to ask questions and look for reasonable answers.   However, in looking for these answers some fact cannot be pushed aside.

Facts

  • The State of Colorado, through Colorado Department of Transportation controls SH 82 from I-70 through Glenwood Springs, over Independence Pass to the juncture with Highway 24 between Leadville and Buena Vista
  • Access to SH 82 (including all of Grand Avenue) is currently governed by the Colorado Access Code http://www.coloradodot.info/business/permits/accesspermits/references/601_1_accesscode_march2002_.pdf/view
  • The Grand Avenue Bridge project scope and need is limited to the south side of Colorado River (downtown Glenwood Springs) and the connection to I-70 on the north.
  • Under the NEPA process, if the agency is uncertain whether significant impacts are expected, an EA (Environmental Assessment) is prepared to determine if there are significant environmental effects.  The findings of the EA may lead to an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) .  http://ceq.hss.doe.gov/nepa/Citizens_Guide_Dec07.pdf
  • City Council has requested that intersections at 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th remain full movement and signalized under the draft ACP
  • Neither the bridge or the ACP process is over
  • The City of Glenwood Springs has a Comprehensive Plan that includes transportation.  http://www.cogs.us/departments/community/Forms/GlenwoodSpringsCompPlan2011.pdf

Frustration

I am frustrated on many different levels, which is why writing this week has been so difficult and I will cover in more depth in a later post.  But perhaps what frustrates me most right now is that there is a pervasive perception that there is no community support for either a new bridge or the ACP. It is true that those opposed have been vocal, but in my conversations with people around town, there are many who feel that a new bridge would or could have a positive impact – depending on design.  Many also feel that a Access Control Plan would give the city some say in access along Grand Avenue which is better than none.  Why are they not writing letters to the editor or showing up to meetings?   I wish I knew.  Perhaps there is not the fervor that those against have.   Perhaps they feel that their voice is represented by many on City Council.  Perhaps they are intimidated by the process. Perhaps it is simply easier to be against something than for it.  There have been some positive suggestions made by several citizens, including Sumner Schachter, Steve Smith and others.  Those will also be explored in a later post . . . as this one has run on too long . . .

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who have suffered tragic losses this week.  Remembering those in Boston, MA; West, TX and now at MIT.

 

Seeking Understanding

Tuesday evening’s Town Hall meeting played to a packed house. While the initial intention was to be a forum for discussion on the Grand Avenue Bridge, it morphed, my guess – probably due to the feedback from the Focus Groups – to include the Access Control Plan and the Bypass/Alternate route. Hosted by The Chamber Resort Association and the Downtown Development Authority and moderated by Clark Anderson with the Sonoran Institute, panelists included Jim Charlier of Charlier Associates, Inc.; Joe Elsen, CDOT Program Engineer; John Haines, Garfield County citizen and property owner; and Dan Roussin CDOT Region 3 Permit Unit Manager.

I am certain that the Glenwood Post Independent will cover all of the basics and major points – and I may throw in my two cents on several of them later, but I want to focus on two issues that seemed to be somewhat of a recurrent theme throughout the evening. One is that of citizen involvement and participation and the other is information about the process of transportation planning which is new territory to me as well.

I commend the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue for caring enough to form a fairly cohesive grass-roots group comprised of interested parties that are residents and business owners of Glenwood Springs as well as some residents and interested parties that live outside of the city limits. They have been able to present their message in perhaps a more concise style than some of the rest of us have succeeded in doing. Sometimes real change begins with groups such as this.

To be truly effective, however involves more than rhetoric and appearing at public meetings reiterating the same oration to roughly the same group of people. So how do you effect change and make your voice heard? In Steven Covey’s book, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, habit five is “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The prayer of St. Francis has a similar phrase, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek …to be understood, as to understand.” The fact is that in order to achieve change we must understand the system and be able to work within that system. We may not like or trust state governmental agencies but in order to make changes and get the desired result, we must understand and play by their rules. We may not like the bureaucracy imposed by working with a municipality, but it is a process that is in place for a reason – at least most of the time.

I need to throw in a bit of a disclaimer here. I am not a fan of big government; less is more as far as I am personally concerned. However, I understand that in order to try to make a difference, I must learn about and seek to understand the procedures and protocol used by whatever entity I am dealing with. This drives me to more involvement with these groups, which actually furthers my knowledge. It ends up being rather circular. The more I understand the more involved I become and the more trust develops. I understand that many people have neither the time nor inclination to do this. It is simply not their cup of tea. Nevertheless, as citizens, it behooves us to have a basic understanding of how government works.

So, to that end, I would like to suggest at least some reading material to understand the basic processes. The first is a handbook prepared by the State of Oregon entitled, When Main Street is a Highway. This material has been recommended by several people and it is a very good reference. http://www.oregon.gov/lcd/tgm/docs/mainstreet.pdf

Another is a booklet done through Project for Public Spaces, Inc. titled How to Engage Your Transportation Authority.
http://www.pps.org/pdf/bookstore/How_to_Engage_Your_Transportation_Agency_AARP.pdf

For those with an interest in Dan Burden’s perspective, his work is all over the internet, at Project for Public Spaces and his own organization, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute: www.walklive.org

I would encourage you to take a look at “CDOT’s 2035 Statewide Transportation Plan”: http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/statewide-planning/documents/2035-plan-technical-reports/2035%20State%20Highway%20Technical%20Report.pdf

And CDOT’s Grand Avenue Bridge site: http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge

Information on the Access Control Plan can be found here: http://www.cogs.us/transpo/ACP/

And to understand the City of Glenwood, check out the “Corridor Optimization Plan”: http://www.ci.glenwood-springs.co.us/departments/publicworks/Engineering/10-12-14%20Final%20SH%2082%20COP.pdf

And the ”City of Glenwood Spring Long Range Transportation Plan 2003-2030”:
http://www.ci.glenwood-springs.co.us/departments/publicworks/Engineering/10-12-14%20Final%20SH%2082%20COP.pdf

And of course, there is the City of Glenwood Springs Comprehensive Plan: http://cogs.us/departments/community/Forms/GlenwoodSpringsCompPlan2011.pdf

I realize this is more reading than many are willing or able to do, but, as I am learning, transportation planning is a very complex issue. Last night I also heard several people say that they did not think they have received answers to questions they have posed. I would suggest a couple strategies. One is to make sure you are asking the people who can give you the answer. I have had great results asking questions directly to CDOT representatives, to City Staff and to City Council representatives. Don’t rely on your neighbor’s interpretation of what they read in the newspaper or on some blog. Go directly to the source. Keep in mind that these are really busy folks, so please allow a reasonable time for a response – and keep your requests respectful. If you still do not feel that you have an answer, please let me know. As a member of the City’s Transportation commission and the Planning Commission, I am committed to trying to understand the needs of the community and working within the system to achieve them.

Finally, regarding citizen involvement, I will say again what I said at the Town Hall meeting;

    Many City Boards and Commissions go begging for people to serve.

It is both a great way to learn and to serve your community. If the time commitment is just too great, consider attending a meeting of a board or commission that interests you.

At last night’s meeting, Pam Szedelyi stated that citizens are not allowed to speak at these meetings. Although I knew that was not the case for the Planning Commission, I must admit, I was not sure of the protocol for the other boards and commissions. I have since confirmed that the Transportation Commission also allows citizen questions and comments during their regular meetings. I would be the first to agree with Pam that a true dialog is not always easy in these meetings. There are a couple of reasons this might be true. Commissions like the Planning Commission are quasi-judicial in nature and must adhere to a more regulated procedure. Other boards and commission meet in the morning or sometimes in the evening. Since these are volunteer boards, the citizens that serve on them often have jobs or family obligations that require a limited meeting time.

Everyone is always welcome to attend city board and commission meetings. Here is a link to the dates and times of each board/commission. http://cogs.us/boards/2010_MeetingDates.pdf

However, I can only speak to the protocol for addressing the Planning Commission and the Transportation Commission.

For the Planning Commission: Comments are taken near the beginning of every regular meeting from people who wish to comment on an item not on the agenda. No need to sign up – just show up. Due to the length of the agenda, we may limit the length of time you can speak, but honestly, that rarely happens. We also take public comments during the Public Hearings for any item the Commission is considering. A caveat for the Planning Commission: Commissioners may not talk with you (either by telephone, by email or in person) about an item that is coming to them for a decision or recommendation to Council. To do this could cause a commissioner to be forced to recuse themselves from that item. If in doubt, please give Community Development a call – 384-6411. For the work sessions, simply come and talk to us – but double check with staff at the above number since we do not always have a work session. Agendas and minutes are posted on the web site http://cogs.us/boards/PandZ/agenda_minutes_2013.htm

For the Transportation Commission: This commission always has a very full agenda so it is recommended that, if you would like to come to ask questions or talk to the commission about a specific topic , call or email Rosa Silver at 970-384-6437 or rosa.silver@cogs.us and request some time on the agenda. If there are several people that would like to talk to the commission about a specific topic, then it may be possible to schedule an additional meeting to accommodate this need. As I mentioned before, due to the limited meeting time and length of agenda, you may only have 3 to 5 minutes to speak during a regular meeting. However, just because there is not a great deal of time for dialog – as in an extended exchange of ideas – it does not mean these volunteer board members are not listening or considering what is being presented. Any questions, if not able to be immediately answered, will be followed up on by a staff and/or commission member.

In talking with city staff and at least one council member, we are going to try to work on some additional ways that may make it easier for the dialog that the public wants and deserves with elected officials and the appointed boards and commissions. The more we truly seek to communicate, the more we will understand.

Q & A on the Grand Avenue Access Control Plan; the Project Team Responds

Last month I sent a series of questions regarding the Access Control Plan to various groups including the City, Stolfus and Associates, and CDOT. My questions were circulated to the Project Team and last Thursday, I received their response. What follows is my questions (in bold), followed by the response as sent to me by Michelle Hansen, a Professional Engineer with Stolfus and Associates. My thanks to Stolfus, CDOT and the City for getting this information to me. Perhaps if there are other questions entered into the comments area, they will respond. I apologize for the formatting of this. Like I said before, you get what you pay for and this blog hosting site is free!

What is the difference/benefit (Pros & Cons?) of entering into an IGA with CDOT in an ACP as opposed to simply going with the current standard access code?

Access is currently controlled on the State Highway System via the State Highway Access Code. By law, CDOT must enforce the requirements of the State Highway Access Code. CDOT applies the Code on an individual first-come/first-serve basis as properties develop and redevelop. The standards and criteria of the Code must be applied as defined with limited flexibility for adjustment. With the Code, CDOT staff cannot consider adjacent land use, future access to adjacent properties, or corridor-wide impacts. The benefits of entering into an IGA with CDOT in an ACP include:
• The City has an opportunity to partner with CDOT to define future access conditions on SH 82 that balance both State and Local objectives. The ACP allows the City to participate in making decisions about access that are more consistent with the City’s vision, land use, and local transportation system rather than having access defined solely by the standards and criteria of the State Highway Access Code.
• The ACP addresses access on a corridor-wide basis rather than an individual, first-come/first-serve basis. An ACP considers how adjacent access points impact each other and defines how access to adjacent properties can be achieved as redevelopment occurs. Adopting the ACP provides the City with the tools to incorporate potential and anticipated future development as it relates to access and provides property owners with security in the planned access for their properties.
• In some instances, the recommendations of the ACP allow closer access spacing and a higher level of access than the criteria of the State Highway Access Code where technical analyses can demonstrate adequate safety and operations. Additionally, the recommendations considered adjacent land use, corridor specific conditions, and City goals for future improvements which are specifically not considerations of the State Highway Access Code.
• Adopting an ACP is the first step necessary for implementing traffic calming and streetscaping improvements on SH 82. These types of improvements have been recommended in multiple previous studies conducted by the City. Specifically, this is the first step towards implementing raised landscaped medians along Grand Avenue. The ACP process ensures that the State and City have provided legal access for adjacent properties and facilitates the public process for any proposed access modifications.
A potential downside of adopting the Access Control Plan is that the ACP recommendations reflect today’s point of view about future conditions. As time goes by, not all of the assumptions of the ACP will ring true. While the ACP provides for future modification to resolve those issues as they arise, the City will likely need to expend public funds to make the necessary changes.

I understand that an ACP is put in place to promote safety and efficiency along a section of highway. In what ways, specifically, does this ACP address pedestrian and bicycle safety and promote multi-modal transportation uses?

An ACP specifically addresses vehicular access to the State Highway System. However, per the State Highway Access Code, ACP’s shall not preclude the current or future accommodation for other transportation modes. Supporting alternative modes is a goal of the project and the Draft ACP supports this goal in the following ways:
• A pedestrian and/or cyclist must cross every driveway on the highway that crosses the sidewalk and/or bicycle lane. Consolidating, reducing, and defining access points reduces the number of conflict points and the associated crash risk between vehicles and pedestrians and/or cyclists.
• The plan is the first step toward implementing traffic calming measures that will make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly. This may include the addition of raised, landscaped medians and the opportunity for wider sidewalks and/or separation between sidewalks and traffic lanes.
• The Draft Plan separates the highest pedestrian movement in the corridor at 8th Street from vehicular traffic providing a safe, free-flowing pedestrian underpass beneath the proposed Grand Avenue Bridge within a couple hundred feet of the 8th Street intersection.
• By placing a full signal at 9th Street, the draft plan also encourages pedestrians to walk from 8th Street to 9th Street, improving the economic viability of businesses in this block.
• By removing the need for left-turn movements at 8th Street, the proposed Grand Avenue Bridge width can be minimized, allowing for a 10’ shared use path connection between the pedestrian bridge and 8th Street, eliminating the need for a scissor structure (a switchback type ramp structure that provides a connection between the pedestrian bridge and the street level and allows the pedestrian/cyclist to exit the structure approximately above or below where they started) or elevator at 7th Street.
• The Draft Plan is consistent with the existing Safe Routes to School route at 9th Street which calls for student crossing of Grand Avenue (SH 82) at 9th Street.
• The Draft Plan provides a consistent spacing between pedestrian crossings in the downtown area rather than creating long segments without pedestrian crossings.
• A pedestrian–only signal is maintained at 15th Street to address the currently warranted pedestrian crossing driven by the movement of high school students.
• The proposed realignment of S. Grand Avenue (at 23rd) will improve the sight lines for all users and will thereby improve safety including safety of the RFTA trail crossing that currently crosses S. Grand at a significant skew.

What type (classification) of Highway is SH 82 through Glenwood – and where can I find the Access code associated with that classification.

SH 82 from I-70 to the Glenwood Springs south city limits is classified as Non-Rural Arterial (Category NR-B). SH 82 beyond the City limits (approximately where the median barrier begins) towards Orrison is classified as an Expressway (Category EX). The State Highway Access Code describes each category and associated requirements. The State Highway Access Code, as well as other access related references, can be found on the CDOT website at: http://www.coloradodot.info/business/permits/accesspermits/references.

The ACP is based on projections for 2032 (I believe – going from memory). When were those projections done and how were they calculated. Given the current downturn in the economy, could those projections be overstated?

The projections for the project are based on a 20-year planning period (2032). Traffic counts were conducted in March 2012 for this project. Seasonal variations in traffic volumes were accounted for and the March counts were adjusted to reflect conditions typically experienced in August, the second highest volume month of the year. Future projected traffic volumes account for background growth (growth anticipated over time) and traffic generated from known planned developments. A background growth rate of 2.0% was used for the Access Control Plan. This growth rate was developed by considering both recent history and a 20-year view of historic trends. The rate is also consistent with other recent plans, including the Corridor Optimization Plan, the South Bridge EA, and the Grand Avenue Bridge EA. The background growth rate of 2.0% was applied to the seasonally adjusted March 2012 traffic counts to project traffic volumes.

Traffic engineering is not an exact science and uses available data to make educated forecasts about future conditions. Any traffic projection risks overstating or understating future traffic volumes due to unknown future conditions; however, even if it takes longer than 20 years to realize the projected growth of traffic volumes, we anticipate that similar growth will be realized over time. Again, an ACP maps out changes that can be implemented when growth does happen.

Are there currently any plans by the City or CDOT to install medians along any portion of Grand Avenue?

CDOT does not currently have any plans to install medians on Grand Avenue except any median that would be included as part of the Grand Avenue Bridge project (not expected to extend past 8th Street).

The City has several planning documents that recommend installing medians on Grand Avenue including the Comprehensive Plan, Grand Avenue Traffic Calming Plan (Dan Burden Plan), and the City Downtown Plan. The Access Control Plan is the first step toward implementation of medians. The City has budgeted funds to develop preliminary plans for medians within the downtown area. This project has not been initiated yet. No funding is currently identified for construction of any medians along any portion of Grand Avenue.

Does this plan include any elements of the “Dan Burden Plan” and if so, what?

The Draft Access Plan incorporates many of the elements recommended in the Grand Avenue Traffic Calming Plan or “Dan Burden Plan” including:
• Setting the stage for installing raised medians on Grand Avenue. The Access Plan is the first step to planning for raised medians along Grand Avenue.
• Eliminating left turns on 8th and 10th. (Note: The “Dan Burden Plan” does not specifically recommend removing the traffic signals at these intersections. That recommendation was developed from the ACP.)
• Moving the 15th Street signal to Hyland Park Drive.
• Realigning Hyland Park Drive with Park Drive.
• The Access Plan does not specify what type of traffic control is required at full movement intersections. However, roundabouts are an acceptable form of traffic control at full movement intersections. The “Dan Burden Plan” recommends roundabouts at 23rd and 27th. Both of these intersections are identified as full movement intersections in the Draft Access Plan; therefore, roundabouts could be implemented in the future as long as the roundabout operates at an acceptable Level of Service and there is enough space to construct a roundabout that can accommodate the design vehicle for the highway.

A stated goal of the Glenwood Springs “Glenwood Spring Transportation Plan 2003-2030” is “To provide and efficient network of streets and bridges that provide safe and convenient access for autos, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians. Streets must be well maintained and function according to street classifications.” Specifically, how does the ACP further this goal?

Focusing solely on the City’s street classifications, Grand Avenue and Glen Avenue are classified as prinicipal arterials. As defined by the City’s Street Standards, “Principal Arterials provide for mobility through the City and for connecting the major centers of activity within the City. Although principal arterials may provide access to commercial and residential properties where no other alternative is available, access is a secondary function.” The ACP ensures that each property adjacent to Grand/Glen has access either directly or via the local street system. In addition, the ACP locates major intersections to provide efficient traffic flow which will preserve capacity on Grand/Glen as traffic volumes increase. This will result in reduced delay and travel times which will encourage through traffic to stay on the Grand/Glen rather than diverting to the local street system. Consolidating access and minimizing locations where vehicles merge, split, or cross also reduces conflict points and potential crash risk.

Has any kind of an economic impact study been conducted? I know there are several studies out there. Are there any that have been done by independent sources – other than by or for a Department of Transportation. The reason I ask is an explicitly stated distrust of studies done by government.

No, an economic impact study has not been conducted as part of the Access Plan study process. The implementation of an Access Control Plan is largely dependent on redevelopment of properties and businesses, so an economic impact study based on today’s businesses does not provide specifically applicable data. However, the DDA has contracted with a group of consultants to evaluate the different intersection configurations between 8th and 10th. This group includes an economic consultant.

There has been talk of requiring an EIS. Will this project (ACP) trigger an EA and/or and EIS?

No, an Access Control Plan will not trigger and EA or an EIS. An Access Control Plan is a planning document and does not have specific construction projects defined. The plan itself will be implemented in phases as things change. Each construction project that is developed over time, whether private or public, will be required to obtain an environmental clearance prior to construction. At that time, the level of environmental clearance required will be defined. Implementation of a portion of an Access Control Plan generally does not require modifying the alignment or capacity of the highway and is accomplished in small phases. Generally, implementation of a portion of an Access Control Plan meets the requirements for a Categorical Exclusion and does not require an EA or EIS.

The intersections at 23rd and 27th are the most probable to see some changes – based on what I understand. If, for example, 23rd Street intersection is reconfigured, how far does that trigger the implementation of the ACP? Down to Safeway? Up to 27th? Or is it limited to only the immediate intersection?

The limits of a construction project at 23rd are difficult to define at this point. Depending on the timing and funding, the limits of the project could be limited to the immediate intersection or could extend farther. These are the elements that will be considered in defining the limits of the project:
• The length required to physically tie-in the realigned intersection with SH 82.
• Operational or safety issues occurring adjacent to or near the intersection at the time of construction
• Funding available to complete improvements
• Other public or private projects in the area that can be combined

Have things like grade differences been considered when determining shared access? If it has not been considered now, will it be considered at the time of implementation?

Yes, grade differences have been considered when determining shared access and will also need to be considered as part of the development plans at the time of implementation. Shared access will be implemented with redevelopment. We have considered the feasibility of addressing existing grade differences within a redevelopment project. It is reasonable that within a redevelopment project, grade adjustments within 1 or 2 feet can be achieved. For example, there is an existing grade difference between the Jimmy’s 66 and Cyber Salon and Day Spa. When the Cyber Salon and Day Spa redevelops (increases traffic by more than 20%), grades would need to be adjusted at the shared driveway location and the grades of the new driveway would be very similar to the existing driveway.

What are the reasons that the City has not undertaken a traffic circulation study, particularly for the downtown area in light of the bridge, ACP, library and parking structure?

The City plans to conduct a traffic circulation study downtown following completion of the Access Plan study and the parking study currently in process. The City has selected to complete the circulation study following these other studies to minimize study overlap, reduce confusion, and focus study efforts efficiently based on recommendations from the other studies as they relate to and potentially influence circulation needs and desires. Since the City’s downtown street system is a grid system, it provides one of the most flexible circulation configurations possible for city street networks.

For shared access, would a reciprocal easement or access agreement be necessary? If so, have those agreements typically addressed liability and indemnification? If not, how are those issues addressed?

Yes, for shared access, a legal access agreement or easement would be required. Liability and indemnification would need to be addressed specifically in the easement agreement prepared by the property owner’s attorney. The City and CDOT would not participate in the specifics of the easement, but would make development approval conditional upon providing one.

Does the City currently have any plans to extend Blake to Wal-Mart? If this were done, what improvements would be necessary on Blake from 23rd Street South?

The City does not currently have plans to extend Blake to Wal-Mart. This connection was identified as a potential improvement for the purposes of local circulation. The adoption of the Access Control Plan only applies to the access points directly to the highway and does not obligate the City to improve any local circulation routes shown including Blake, 8th Street connection, 14th Street connection, or South Bridge.

If Blake was extended to Wal-Mart for public traffic, roadway improvements would be required and would likely include improving the cross-section to one of the City’s standard street sections, as well as improving the condition of the driving surface itself.

Could the redevelopment of one parcel or business trigger the redevelopment for an entire block or group of businesses?

Under the both the State Highway Access Code and the ACP, depending on the size and extent of a redevelopment, the level of access could be restricted for multiple properties or businesses with the redevelopment of one parcel or business. For example, if a large redevelopment project is initiated and the City requires the developer to install medians along a portion of Grand Avenue or Glen Avenue, the construction of medians could restrict other driveways within that segment to right-in/right-out.

In contrast, the relocation, consolidation, and shared access conditions in the plan would not be triggered for other parcels adjacent to a property redevelopment unless the property owner participated willingly. Relocation, consolidation and shared access will be implemented based on individual redevelopments. Shared access is generally accomplished through multiple iterations since the timing of redevelopment for two properties side by side do not generally occur simultaneously. For example, if the plan indicates a shared access between property A and property B, and property A redevelops first, property A will be required to construct their new access adjacent to the property line and provide an access easement for property B. When property B redevelops several years later, property B will construct a shared access or connect to the existing access at property A and provide an access easement for property A.

Chris McGovern states that 10 small businesses went out of business due to the recent Grand Avenue Paving Project (GAPP) project. Is there any way to verify or refute this? Is there any ongoing information/studies related to business in Glenwood Springs and why they succeed or don’t. If they go out of business does anyone follow up to see what are the reasons?

It is difficult to directly associate the success or failure of a business to a single factor or event. Numerous factors other than construction or access can impact a business’ revenues, including, but not limited to, internal management and operations, external local and global economic factors, competition, and technology/industry related changes. Studies have shown that certain businesses experience increased revenues as a result of construction spending during a project. Given the numerous factors that contribute to a business’ success or failure and the variation in effects businesses experience during construction, there is no way to specifically link the failure of an individual business to a single factor or, in this case, a single project.

” . . .the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

Grand Avenue looking south from the old wooden bridge - Courtesy of Frontier Historical Museum. Please do not reproduce.

Grand Avenue looking south from the old wooden bridge – Courtesy of Frontier Historical Museum. Please do not reproduce.

When I started Our Town Glenwood Springs a month ago, I began it more as a way for me to clarify my thoughts on things that are going on in Glenwood Springs. Writing, for me, is a way to analyze information and organize my view. This process has been interesting. It has garnered some attention that I didn’t really anticipate from entities like City Council and the Glenwood Post Independent. I really appreciate the recognition of my effort – and truly that is all it is – just an effort to try to bring some facts to people. I love the following quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.” This blog does not address any national crisis – although there are several worthy of addressing – but this blog seeks to stick to the local, Glenwood Springs issues. However, like Lincoln, I am also a firm believer that the people, when given the facts, with make appropriate decisions based on those facts.

Another great statesman, John F. Kennedy said, “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” This is what has driven me to spend many hours and sleepless nights, reading and researching. Although I have been a resident of Glenwood Springs for nearly 45 years, I wanted to step out of my prefabricated interpretations and, dare I say it, prejudices – to try to find the facts and separate them from assumption and speculation and misinformation that seem to abound. Predictions of blight and vermin infested vacated downtown buildings are no more accurate than being able to return to the 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s where Grand Avenue was an idyllic boulevard with trees forming a canopy shading vehicles traveling to and from the mining town of Aspen and points in between.

Yesterday, citizens of Glenwood Springs, along with business owners, and other interested individuals had the chance to get a glimpse of the height and width of the proposed Grand Avenue Bridge structure. Last night was the first of two planned evenings of public hearings regarding the proposed Access Control Plan. We also learned that the Chamber Resort Association is working to get a mediated “town hall” type of meeting together so that City Council can engage in a dialog with residents, business owners, and other stakeholders over the big three; the bridge, the ACP and a bypass. I certainly hope that the Chamber is able to bring that meeting to fruition.

I found one aspect of yesterday’s meetings very encouraging. The respectful and reasonable comments made by both the citizens commenting and Council was heartening. Yes, I did hear some derogatory remarks generally muttered under breath or for the benefit of someone seated or standing nearby but this was, in my opinion, a far more beneficial assemblage than I have witnessed.

Not unlike other meetings, most were concerned about the impact of the bridge and the ACP on the downtown. This is not to say that other areas were not considered or discussed, but much of the comment involved the downtown area. Some feared that the larger bridge would create a tunnel or canyon effect on the area of Grand Avenue from 7th to 8th Streets and that businesses would be ‘sacrificed” for the bridge. There was concern about emergency access and the potential of closing alleys. There were questions about the real need for a new bridge. Terry Stark thought the issue of a bridge should be brought to a vote of the citizens of Glenwood Springs, but others maintained that the bridge is a regional issue. The scale and mass of the proposed bridge was questioned. Manette Anderson stated that she thought a 3-D model was needed, sooner than later, to help the community visualize the bridge. Several members of City Council agreed and said they had hoped to see that prior to the meeting.

Prior to the Access Control presentation by Michelle Hansen a traffic consultant with Stolfus and Associates, Councilor Todd Leahy asked Michelle to explain the how SH 82 through Glenwood Springs is currently managed under the States Access Control Code. Michelle explained that under the current state code, adopted in 1981 and revised once in 2002, the only access guaranteed to any parcel is a right-in-right-out access. If development/redevelopment of a property occurs and it increases traffic to that property by 20 percent, then the owner/developer must file for an access permit. She emphasized that the current Access Code does not take into consideration land use and it is very rigid in its application. She also stated that it is not equitable as access is granted on a first-come-first-served basis. The advantage to adopting an ACP is that it gives the City a say in how things are managed. While it is an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) and legally binding, it can be amended. She stated that in Colorado State Transportation Region 3, of which Glenwood is a part, five requests for amendments have been requested and all five requests were approved.

During her comments to Council after the presentation, Karen Price stated that it was very helpful to know what the existing policy was. She also mentioned that she spoke with Chief of Police Terry Wilson and he explained that emergency access including firefighting procedure would not be much different with a new bridge than it was now. She said she appreciated his explanation. However, she wondered what the impact of the new bridge and the ACP would have on community events like the Strawberry Days Parade, Downtown Farmer’s Market. She also wondered whether adequate consideration had been given to ADA issues.

Bob Andre and John Burg stated they thought the process that had been undertaken for the bridge and the ACP was good. Mr. Burg emphasized that pedestrian movement must be considered particularly in the downtown. He stated that downtown Glenwood was special and he knew the DDA was working to make sure key issues were addressed.

Chris McGovern spoke twice, once regarding the bridge and the second time regarding the ACP. Perhaps she will forward me her comments on the bridge for use in this blog. Regarding the ACP she questioned the wisdom of the use of U-turns throughout town as a solution due to the fact that many people misjudge the turning radius of their vehicles. She encouraged more public meetings as planned by the Chamber.

Councilor Dave Sturges mentioned that he was not convinced that the ACP was a better option than the current Access Code and it would allow the City more say. He is very concerned with the impact on 8th, 9th and 10th streets and sees this as an opportunity to enhance the downtown experience for visitors and residents alike.

County resident John Haines mentioned that he talked with Governor Hickenlooper briefly in Snowmass on Wednesday evening and was given the name of a contact at the Governor’s office for further discussion regarding the Grand Avenue Bridge as he did not feel the Governor received both sides of the story from his brief meeting with City Council.

Members of City Council emphasized that while they are unanimous in their opinion that a new bridge is needed and that the proposed alignment is the best, many aspects of the bridge are not set in stone, including the design and aesthetics and the 8th Street configuration and the pedestrian bridge. They also stated that, regarding the ACP, they are still gathering information and listening to comments and suggestions and will weigh the concerns, considerations and suggestions very carefully before making a final decision. They encouraged the community to continue to give them feedback via email and Councilor Bershenyi restated that he is happy to meet with anyone for coffee and discussion.

With this blog, I simply wanted to get some information out about the comments from last night’s meeting. If you feel I have not accurately represented your comments, or you wish to add additional comments, please feel free to add to the discussion in the form of a comment. As an editorial comment I wish to say that this City Council faces some of the most burdensome and potentially divisive issues to come before this body for many years. We, as citizens, rather than criticizing and condemning them should be doing everything we can to assist them in making the best, most sagacious decisions possible for our community. I think we are moving in that direction. Let’s continue to keep the discussion positive and thoughtful.

Sumner Schachter Letter to City Council

This letter by Sumner Schachter was forwarded to me by Chris McGovern with the request that it be posted. Happy to comply.

Dear Council Members,

I am writing you to express some of my views and encourage you to stop or delay the Hwy 82/Glenwood Access plan and focus all of your attention and the town’s attention on the Grand Avenue Bridge.

My belief is that the current bridge replacement and the access plan are not in Glenwood’s best interest at this time. They seem to be driven by the needs and goals of CDOT for facilitating traffic from I-70 through Glenwood. Those goals have not been aligned with ours. Let’s fine tune, reaffirm and adopt what is best for Glenwood and then have CDOT work with us to see how their needs mesh with ours. While it might have been better if the catalyst for the bridge would have been us, it is occurring. The replacement of the Grand Avenue bridge is not currently a high priority for GS. I doubt it would have come up by this council . It does not seem to be a high priority mentioned in other studies. It is a CDOT and (I70) priority—they have the specific funds and ‘our’ bridge does not meet their functional needs and seems to slow traffic on 82 and also limits the eastbound entrance to I70. So they have made it their priority to replace it and therefore it is on your plate instead of a more comprehensive and detailed transportation plan that includes, finally, an 82 plan, our downtown development, pedestrian and bike traffic, eighth street realignment and possible river front development—the elements in the comp. plan.

The bridge replacement may be going forward whether we like it or not. Nevertheless, we should be able to exert leverage and input to make the auto and pedestrian/bike bridge construction and design as good as possible. It seems to me that the access plan is diverting attention from the bridge, confusing much of the community, creating additional opposition to the bridge project and not necessary for Glenwood at this time. While the process developed by CDOT and consultants is engaging and well orchestrated, the product seems unnecessary and, perhaps, flawed. Let’s not let great process mask poor judgment and planning.

I think it would be much healthier for our town and the ‘political’ process if Glenwood will adopt a comprehensive long term transportation plan—autos, trucks, buses,
pedestrians, bikes, emergency access and egress—from the elements of the many studies already done including the COS. While the revised comp plan addresses some of this, it is not a specific long term strategic and action plan for implementation. If we had a plan, then we would be more clear with CDOT and insistent that they mesh their needs with ours. If not by design, then by circumstance, a big portion of the future of our downtown and small town character and long delayed transportation issues have come up during your term(s).

So, please stop the Access Plan study (for now), continue to focus on the bridge and its many implications for Glenwood and include the dissenters/critics in the process and don’t close ranks. As far as the COS, nothing is impossible. The Glenwood Canyon, Snowmass Canyon, Edwards, CO…were all thought impossible and unaffordable at some point in the past.

I urge you to drop the access plan and turn all focus on the bridge.
Please try to:
1. Make sure that the final design is worthy of a long term gateway to our town.
2. Make sure that the construction of this bridge would not preclude any of the options in the COS. I do believe that completion of this bridge will make an “alternate route” option for Glenwood a much lower priority to CDOT and Federal funds since the new bridge would solve most of their ‘problems ‘, but not ours.
3. Make sure that a pedestrian bridge and bikeway is included at their cost.
4. Try to get the bridge as narrow as possible and impact the 7th to 8th street block as little as possible.
5. Make sure that an 8th street realignment is still possible if the city decides to go ahead with that option. Keep 8th and Grand as accessible pedestrian intersection.
6. Bring more discussion and groups to the table. There have been many letters opposed to the bridge and there is the Save Grand Ave. group also. I have not seem similar support for ‘build the bridge’. That doesn’t mean it does not exist. However, it seems that there are more voices to be heard and more time should be spent listening to those voices and building participation.
7. Make sure that Glenwood can function during construction. I don’t think that has been clarified well enough yet.
8. Try to include noise and visual mitigation to 7th-9th street on Grand Avenue wherever possible.

Thanks for listening and for your hard work and service.

Sincerely,
Sumner Schachter
1204 Blake (PO Box 61)
Glenwood Springs

CDOT Region 3 Director Responds

Mr. Burg:

I appreciate your taking the time to write to me, and the project teams, as well as share your comments in the public forum that is Kathy Trauger’s blog. It is beneficial for all involved that we maintain this type of constructive discussion as part of the public involvement processes for these two projects. Thank you for your insight regarding the Grand Avenue Bridge study and comments about the public involvement. I do hope you’ll be able to attend one of the two Story Poling events on March 7.

Regarding the Access Control Plan, it does not eliminate parking on SH 82 nor create medians. What it does is provide the mechanism for the City of Glenwood to place future medians in SH 82, if they so choose. Obviously, a project of that magnitude would have to have its own public process that evaluates how parking would be replaced elsewhere, exactly what the limits of the medians would be, and more. The ACP does none of that. When thinking about the possibility of medians and removal of parking on parts of Hwy 82, it is important to remember that part of the concept of that project places a grass/landscaped strip between the highway and the adjacent sidewalk, which is a big safety improvement for pedestrians. Also, medians, if constructed, would facilitate pedestrian crossings of the highway as well.

I appreciate that you agree that removal of the left-hand turns from SH 82 to 8th Street makes sense for a number of reasons (bridge width being the primary reason). If this is done, however, it would not be possible to maintain left turns and a through movement from 8th Street, as you state you would like. The only way to prevent left-hand turns from SH 82 is with some sort of median or barrier. It is not reasonable to expect that a sign on the signal arm stating “No Lefts” would prevent motorists from attempting to make left turns from SH 82 from a through lane. The resulting unlawful left-turn movements would cause safety and mobility problems for everyone else on SH 82. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where a compromise is going to be needed.

CDOT, the City and the DDA are working hard to better develop the alternatives for 8th Street. We have defined the alternatives, and will soon be presenting those alternatives at a number of meetings. The primary question is, “Will the community accept a bridge platform wide enough to accommodate left-turn lanes?” We hope to settle that question in the next two weeks. Following that, there will be a City Council workshop where we hope the final configuration is decided on.

Again, thank you for writing and for bringing attention to some very key issues.

Sincerely,

David Eller, CDOT R3 Director

Letter from John Burg to City

Many thanks to Chris McGovern and John Burg for allowing me to post this email sent to Chris and the letter sent to City Counci;
Kathy Trauger

Chris,

I appreciate your very thoughtful comments to Kathy Trauger regarding the proposed Access Control Plan. They are clearly based on a wealth of experience and knowledge. I commend you on your high level of professional citizenship.

FYI, following is the text of an e-mail that I sent to the Mayor and City Council members with copies to the City Manager and key department heads on February 14. I know this e-mail differs with many in its acceptance and support of the two new bridges. However, it is my personal judgement that the new bridges are going to happen, that the team working on them is very competent, and that the best tactic in this regard is to take advantage of the opportunities (and challenges) that the new bridges present. In contrast, the proposed Access Control Plan is (but need not be) a real disaster. I agree totally with your findings that the ACP should be taken very seriously as a binding legal document. The efforts by some to downplay the ACP’s importance by claiming that is “only a plan; will be implemented over time; or can be amended” are disingenuous.

Mayor and City Council Members:

The purpose of this e-mail is to provide comments to you regarding the two current Glenwood Springs CDOT projects: 1) the bridge project as presented at the January 9 open house, and 2) the Access Control Plan as presented at the February 12 open house. I write as a concerned citizen of Glenwood and as a retired City Planner. My professional career included playing the lead role in downtown planning and urban design in both Minneapolis, MN and Sarasota, FL. In Minneapolis I worked closely with the Mayor, other elected officials, and MDOT in the design of a new landmark suspension bridge (originally proposed as a routine, mundane bridge) over the Mississippi River into downtown. In Sarasota, I worked with elected officials and FDOT on measures to improve the connection between downtown Sarasota and its beautiful bayfront across US Highway 41. In both Cities we were able to develop plans that met the objectives of the Cities as well as the State Departments of Transportation. I believe it is possible to do that here with your thoughtful deliberations and leadership.

The Bridges

There is much positive to say about the bridge process and project. The process has been open and participatory. The consultant team has exhibited an open and constructive attitude. They seem very competent and eager to produce a context sensitive and exemplary final product. The proposed solution offers many opportunities including the redevelopment of 6th Street between Laurel and Grand as well as an improved pedestrian/bicycle bridge connecting downtown to North Glenwood. I was impressed with the ped/bike bridge design engineers. They were asking all the right questions: How can the bridge best integrate into the downtown on the South? On the North, how can the bridge best connect to the new 6th Street “village”, the Pool, and the regional trail system? What is the most appropriate bridge type? What are the aesthetics? I had the strong sense that they were eager to apply their design talents to create an exemplary and iconic bridge. I also sensed at the January 10 Q and A session that the project’s broader design team has a desire for excellence.

Recently, an urban design friend of mine in Chicago told me about the film “How Much Does This Building Weigh, Mr. Foster”. It’s about the architect, Norman Foster and is available via Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you take a look. I commend it to the bridge designers and your broader Grand Avenue team as a source of inspiration. Of course, Foster’s projects are large scale and he has great resources to work with. Nevertheless, we know that great things can happen at smaller scales and with more limited resources when the will is there. The key elements, which are exemplified in Foster’s office, are context sensitivity and the joy in striving for the heights. It’s so much more satisfying than hum-drum mediocrity – and in the end it will even bring most nay sayers on board. In the interim it will require your support, as well as that of the broader design team and those of us on the periphery. I for one will do what I can to be supportive.

The Access Control Plan

I wish I had more positive comments regarding the Access Control Plan. It’s a relatively simple project. Relatively simple solutions are at hand. Yet, it contains huge flaws. The elimination or consolidation of private access points over time, of course, makes sense. I was greatly disappointed on February 12 to again see the proposed elimination of traffic signals at 8th and 10th as well as the elimination of on-street parking. As I’ve previously noted, the 8th Street intersection is the most egregious. It’s the heart of the City – the City’s 100% pedestrian intersection. Removing this signal and its negative impact on pedestrian and vehicular cross traffic would be a terrible blow to Glenwood’s downtown. I’ve been scratching my head in an effort to understand the rationale for this (with any sensitivity toward downtown) without success. The comment of a CDOT official “I thought it would be easier to cross if you took out half of the signals” at the January 10 Q and A session added to my bafflement. Perhaps I misunderstood. Perhaps there is some sort of 1950’s pre-occupation with grade-separated crossings, that has driven a focus on the under-the-bridge crossing and elimination of this signal.

Jane Jacob’s seminal book “The Death and Life of of Great American Cities” in 1961 marked a turning point in urban planning. Planning and urban design theory and practice over the past several decades has demonstrated that in downtown contexts, people like to cross at intersections in the open air. Mixed-use downtowns with grids (the smaller the block size the better) work best. They provide the most opportunity for circulation of both pedestrians and vehicles. Severing these grids is damaging. Severing the grid at the City’s heart is unfathomable. A wide array of theory and practice supports this view including “Context Sensitive Design” and “Complete Streets” among transportation professionals. I am aware that the Downtown Development Authority is in the process of hiring an urban design consultant to address many of these issues. I urge you to seriously consider their findings.

During my professional career I have always striven for win/win solutions. I think a simple win/win solution is available here: Maintain the existing traffic signals. Synchronize the signals to accommodate peak-period Grand Avenue traffic while giving more time for cross street traffic in off-peak periods. Signal timing can easily be programmed to accommodate peak and off-peak periods during time-of-day and days-of-the-week. Given the tightness of the right-of-way and the desirability of bringing the pedestrian bridge to 8th Street (for several reasons), it is probably necessary to eliminate left turns from Grand Avenue at 8th.

There is also the issue of on-street parking. As I have previously noted, in addition to the parking spaces themselves, this parking provides a comfort buffer for sidewalk pedestrians as well as a psychological signal for vehicles to move at reduced speeds. I recognize that there are no proposals to increase the speed limit on Grand, however, we also know that motorists tend to drive at the perceived safe speed regardless of the speed limit, and that on-street parking reduces their speed.

There have been occasional implications from public officials that the pubic naturally resists change, even when it may be for the better. Having been a City Planner for 40 years I understand this resistance However, one must also be cautious in thinking that change for changes sake is good, or that change is always progress. In the case of traffic signals and on-street parking on Grand Avenue, I strongly believe the proposed changes would do major damage. The good news is that doing the right thing in this case, is the most simple and the most cost effective.

Thank you all for your honorable service to the City. I believe that you are all honestly trying to do what is best for the City. I have confidence that you will give your best to this effort, and I am hopeful for the best outcome for the City.

John Burg
1604 Bennett Avenue
947-9322

Access Control Plan Response to Chris McGovern

This, as promised, is in response to a comment from Chris McGovern to my blog “Hot Under the Collar” posted February 20th : http://ourtownglenwoodsprings.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/hot-under-the-collar/

First of all, Chris, thank you for your many years of service on City Council and the Transportation Commission. I realize that I have very big shoes to fill on the Transportation Commission. I appreciate your taking the time to comment on my blog and I hope you will continue to read and contribute.

The Planning Commission workshop last Tuesday was devoted to the Access Control Plan. By the way – these work sessions are open to the public and are publicly noticed. I am a firm believer that land use and transportation go hand in hand – and so the Planning Commission has requested another opportunity to review and make formal comment to City Council before a decision is made. City Council will be taking public comment at their meetings on March 7th and March 21st with a decision potentially coming April 4th. I also understand from talking with City Engineer Terri Partch that prior to the March meetings, story poles will be erected by CDOT along Grand Avenue to demonstrate the potential bridge widths associated with various traffic movement at 8th and Grand. I hope everyone will take the time to review this information.

Before I go much further, I need to say a couple of things:

• I am not a 100% advocate of the Access Control Plan as proposed. I see some positives and some negatives “as proposed”.
• I am still learning, still investigating and still asking lots of questions.
• I do like to play “Devil’s Advocate” – so bear with me . . .
• The Access Control Plan is just that . . . a “plan” – the implementation of which can be dependent on a number of factors.

Following is my response to Chris (Chris’ comments are in bold italics):
The ACCESS CONTROL PLAN is being proposed to move traffic along #82 at the expense of the Glenwood Springs community and at the expense of circulation patterns within Glenwood.

This is an opinion and as such is valid as such – an opinion. The circulation pattern, if all the ACP were adopted and implemented as proposed, most certainly would change. Whether it would be to the “detriment” of the current circulation pattern is pure conjecture.

The town would be bisected by an ACCESS CONTROL PLAN that is designed to mitigate traffic congestion on Grand Ave.

The town currently is, to some degree, bisected by having SH 82 running through the center of the community. But it is also bisected by two rivers, the Roaring Fork and the Colorado. While not man-made, the community has had to make some necessary accommodations for those rivers in building community. The question is will it be MORE bisected by the ACP? The answer depends partly on what is adopted by the City and approved by CDOT. If intersections are limited to right-in, right-out, it could indeed make getting from the east side to the west of Grand Avenue a longer, more convoluted process. Will it prevent it? Absolutely not.

• Glenwood citizens & visitors will be PROHIBITED from making left hand turns off Grand or onto Grand (that are currently allowed) at 56 locations between 8th and 30th.

I didn’t count but I trust that your numbers are accurate including intersections and “driveways” between 8th and Blake (30th) as the current ACP is proposed. If I counted correctly, there are 16 proposed closures between 23rd Street and 27th Street. In most of these cases, that may be an understatement as many of the businesses along this stretch have no clear entrances or exits. The same is true with the 6 or 7 “closures” from 27th to Blake (by McDonald’s) . Two things to keep in mind if I understand correctly (& I will verify and correct if this is not accurate):
The ACP will only be triggered by
*redevelopment of the property
*A traffic increase of 20% to the business
*Event of a serious accident

• As the study is proposed now- a car would not be allowed to travel ACROSS Grand Avenue at 8th Street or at 10th Street…. which truly cuts off one side of town from the other. All of the existing cross traffic east to west and west to east that currently travels on 8th, 9th and 10th is proposed to be handled by 9th Street. Very little of the cross traffic would move farther to the south- unless 9th Street stopped working/which of course COULD happen. (8th St. is already “past capacity”.)

My current preference, based on the information that I have, is that 8th and 9th Streets remain fully functional, signalized intersections. I really would like to like the right-in, right-out with a “pork chop” pedestrian refuge however my concern is access to the governmental and business entities as well as a potential connection to the 7th/8th Street bridge to Midland. I also think that if pedestrians are not given the option to cross somewhere between the middle of the 700 block (the under bridge crossing) and the 9th Street, I think that they may try to make a run for it.

If the decision is to go with right-in, right-out at 8th Street, then I would suggest that the city and CDOT consider a mid-block crossing in the 800 block with a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the street as well as some kind of flashing warning signal to motorists that pedestrians are present. This would mean the elimination of two parking spaces on either side of the street to create a bulb-out, but that in itself would, theoretically have a slowing, calming effect on traffic.

• There will be no turns from Grand Ave onto 7th… no access from Grand at that point, as the wing street will be closed.

This is true, but is more a function of the bridge replacement than of the ACP.

• 5 Parking spaces will be lost from the current parking area under the bridge.

True, but again a function of the bridge replacement more than ACP.

• If a vehicle was parked at the new library on 8th Street: the only “move” allowed at 8th & Grand would be to take a right hand turn & go over the bridge; there is no way to stay in downtown (The wing street is also proposed to be removed)

The parking under the library is currently earmarked as employee parking for Colorado Mountain College. Although I had to recuse myself from this decision when it appeared before the Planning Commission, I recall that one of the conditions included that cars exiting the garage would be limited to a right-hand turn. This would mean that employees would not be using the 8th Street intersection anyway. Patrons of the library will have various parking options, but most abundant parking will be located on Cooper. Chris is correct that if they use 8th & Grand (if limited to right-turn only), they will find themselves over the bridge. However at 8th and Cooper they will have several options including a right turn to go to Blake, or going one more block to 7th.

• Jimmy’s 66 at 13th is supposed to share a driveway onto Grand with the neighbor to the south. Has no-one ever walked those parcels to note the huge grade difference between the 2 properties?

This is a misconception. If Jimmy’s 66 and the businesses next door remain as they are, then nothing will change. If there is a redevelopment, then the access will be reviewed. The grade of the parcel next door appears to slope from east to west with the lowest nearest Grand. It appears that there is approximately a two-foot variance between the front of both parcels. I don’t think this would be a deal breaker for a shared entrance, but the grade would certainly be a consideration.

• Around 23rd….if a vehicle-customer coming from south Hwy #82 wanted to make a purchase from Arby’s…. the customer would need to go PAST Arby’s, take a left into Safeway, go south through the Safeway parking lot, continue going through Wendy’s parking lot, and finally arrive in Arby’s. What do you suppose that the impact will be on Arby’s business?

Again, keep in mind that this change would only be implemented if the businesses, Wendy’s or Arby’s redeveloped or if the City were to decide to add medians to Grand Avenue in this location. I don’t see that this will be an issue in the immediate future. There are in fact times when I have visited one or the other of these businesses, I will go back through the Safeway parking lot to make a left-hand turn onto Grand rather than take my chances in the “suicide lane” on Grand Ave.

• The gas station is even beyond Arby’s. Do planners really think that a consumer would take a left into Safeway, go through Wendy’s, go through Arbys in order to get to the gas station?

See above comment although Chris raises a good point for this gas station. Perhaps since 22nd Street across the street is planned to be a ¾ movement intersection (Left-in ok), this site could also be considered for the same.

• A customer would not be able to take a left into the US Bank in the 1900 block of Grand. When approaching from the south, the only access would be through Safeway.

Again – this would only take place upon redevelopment of the US Bank property. I have seen the proposed route – through Safeway parking – used by quite a few people.

• How does Safeway feel about being the “access” for a bank, for 2 restaurants and for a gas station? How much of the Safeway driveways are given up to traffic that is not Safeway’s customers? What kind of insurance liabilities must be absorbed by Safeway with this configuration?

While I cannot speak for Safeway, I would imagine they would be happy with anything that would bring potential customers to their door. Liability issues, I think, would be addressed with a reciprocal easement or access agreement that would stipulate any insurance requirement and indemnification.

• The Access Control Plan originally called for the Lutheran Church to be removed so that North Hyland drive can be straightened out to “meet” the corner of Park across the street. The plan has been changed to indicate the need to straighten out that intersection- but it could be done by taking 2 residential homes OR the Church.

It would only be done by “taking” IF there was a serious accident, probably a fatality. I am absolutely not an advocate of using eminent domain and would hope that the City could enter into an agreement with the appropriate land owners if and when the need or time arose. The recommendation from the City Engineer was that the City begin a fund to purchase these properties should they become available. Should CDOT feel that safety was critical, it might in fact not be the city who would exercise eminent domain.

• All of the property owners on the west side of Grand Ave between North Park Drive & South Park Dr. will be forced to “share” driveways” between neighbors with the “sale and/or redevelopment of property that brings a 20% increase of traffic”. (like a daycare home!) They will only be able to take a right hand turn out of their driveways. What do you suppose this does to THEIR property values?

In clarification of this with Terri Partch, City Engineer, she stressed that this area is currently zoned R1/6, which is single family residential. A rezoning of this area would be required to create the required 20% increase in traffic. Nothing will change if these homes remain residential. If the area were to be rezoned and uses began to be changed, then access in this area would also change.

• If you are in a vehicle on the east side of Grand between 14th and 20th—- you cannot take a left to get onto Grand Ave. according to the proposed plan (unless a “solution can be found for North Hyland Park Drive).. How much additional traffic does this force onto Blake Avenue ? What will the “wait” will be at he stop lights on 14th and 20th? How long do folks wait now to get across?

I understand, and will clarify with the City Engineer that the intersections and Park Drive and Hyland Park Drive (north) will remain full-movement intersections. Once again, nothing changes at the present time see above.

• When asked about pedestrian movements across Grand Ave , the planners kind of “shrugged” and stated that pedestrians would “still” be able to get across Grand at 8th (even though there’d be no signal/light…. but “perhaps” a safety median could be put there.) The PLAN calls for pedestrians to be “pushed” down to crossing under the bridge-closer to 7th…. instead of crossing at 8th (which is the heaviest used crossing in town).

See my response to an earlier point.

• Traveling south on Hwy #82 between 23rd and 27th—- there will be NO left hand turns allowed. You won’t be able to turn left into Domino’s, Defiance Thrift Store, etc. That means BLAKE between 23rd and 27th will have to service south bound-commercial traffic that is trying to get into all the businesses between 23rd & 27th. That stretch of Blake is not in any condition to carry that kind of traffic.

Again, nothing is slated to happen until/unless there is redevelopment and or a serious accident in this area. Also see an earlier response.

• The ACCESS CONTROL PLAN has Blake at 27th open through to Wal-Mart…. even though the Transportation Commission has been told by City Staff that was not being considered. Blake is not in any condition from 23rd to Wal-Mart to carry “through” traffic. Property owners along South Blake have not been noticed or consulted on this part of the proposal.

I have been in several meetings that opening of Blake through to WalMart was being kicked around. I have not heard that this option was off the table. I will check with City staff to get an opinion. I do think that in order for that to happen, Blake would need to be improved.

Everyone in Glenwood will be affected by an ACCESS CONTROL PLAN.
Many businesses in Downtown Glenwood will be adversely affected.
Businesses on Hwy #82 between 19th and 23rd would be severely impacted.
Citizens living on Blake, Cooper & Colorado will be negatively impacted.

There is truly no way to know to what extent businesses will be effected but the impact on our local business has always been one of my top concerns. I would direct you to a couple of reports prepared by various entities in other areas in response to very similar concerns. From reading these, it seems to be that the perceived negative effect to the business is greater than the actual negative effect.

ftp://ftp.mdt.mt.gov/research/LIBRARY/2009-12FINALREPORT.PDF

http://www.trpc.org/regionalplanning/landuse/Documents/Capitol%20Boulevard%20Planning%20Project/Economic_Impacts_of_Access_Mgmt.pdf

http://www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/D01/PlanningPrograms/trafficstudies/Documents/Economic-Impacts-of-Access-Management.pdf

I urge everyone to continue to read, listen, and do some investigation on your own. And of course – continue to read this blog and feel free to comment! If you simply wish to ask a question, I will try to see that it gets answered by someone who is qualified to answer!