Ideas for Highway 82 run the gamut |

Ideas for Highway 82 run the gamut

Dennis WebbVail, CO Colorado

A draft study has identified 22 possible alternatives for improving travel along the Highway 82 corridor in Glenwood Springs.Ideas run the gamut from simply changing traffic light timing and adding more lights on the highway, to building a new route along Lookout Mountain on the east edge of town at a potential cost of $600 million or more.”What’s going to be covered in this is the logical to the ridiculous,” said City Council member Chris McGovern, also a member of the city’s Transportation Commission.The study is intended to look at the full range of possible means for addressing increasing congestion on Highway 82 in Glenwood, where it currently follows the city’s main street, Grand Avenue.Among the alternatives evaluated are several that make use of the railroad right of way corridor on the east side of the Roaring Fork River. The city long has looked to the corridor as a possible site for a new route that would alleviate congestion on Grand Avenue, although some city residents don’t want to see the river corridor developed.Some of the other ideas include four-laning the residential part of Midland Avenue north of 27th Street, building the south bridge project that would extend Midland to and across the Roaring Fork River to 82, making the railroad corridor route one-way in the morning and the other way in the evening to accommodate commuting patterns, designating permanent one-way traffic on each of two different corridors; and creating a new Interstate 70/Highway 82 interchange at Devereux Road.Some ideas focus on changes downtown. Some would convert parts of Eighth through 11th streets to one-way to limit traffic movement at Grand Avenue intersections, or ban right or left turns at those intersections. Another would have Glenwood’s main I-70 interchange directly connect to one-way Cooper and Colorado avenues. Both are residential streets.The “corridor optimization study” now nearing completion is being conducted as a precursor to an environmental assessment that would evaluate several top alternatives and identify a preferred one, while seeking public input along the way.The current study is being conducted by PBS&J, a Greenwood Village-based transportation consulting firm. The city is paying a little more than $200,000 for the work.PBS&J rates each of its identified alternatives based on a number of criteria, such as noise, water and air quality impacts; costs and potential funding sources; effectiveness in reducing regional and local congestion; safety; and the degree to which the option accommodates alternative transportation, cyclists and pedestrians.However, the study doesn’t assign an overall evaluation score to any alternative. City engineer Mike McDill said it’s up to the city to judge each option based on how important it deems various criteria to be. The study is intended more to answer technical questions.”It gets all the data up on the table and it gives some basis for ranking the data and then it leaves the final judgment and value attachments to the community to go from there,” he said.He said it was important to include even the $600 million relocation of 82 to the east side of town on the list of alternatives, to show that all alternatives are being considered. That project would require a new I-70 interchange east of the current one, along with some tunneling.McDill said that if for no other reason, the study will have been worth it if it produces some viable alternatives that hadn’t previously been considered.The draft study proposes several different Devereux interchange alignments, some tying into Midland Avenue and some making use of Highway 6.It also suggests having the railroad corridor route designated for southbound traffic only, with northbound traffic allowed on Grand. Another alternative would place southbound traffic on Midland from 8th to 23rd Street, and northbound traffic on the railroad corridor.Some options, such as the limited turns downtown, received the worst ratings possible in numerous categories, including their effectiveness, but scored well in terms of low cost. Most of the more expensive options, such as ones involving the railroad corridor, tended to rate better across most other categories.The study also attaches some preliminary cost estimates to options. It projects that widening Midland could cost $45 million to $60 million, building a railroad corridor route, anywhere from $25 million to $95 million; and pursuing a south bridge project, $35 million to $50 million.McDill said the city’s Transportation Commission is expected to review the draft results at its meeting Tuesday morning and provide feedback to consultants as they work on a final report. That report is expected to be presented to City Council April 5.

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