The Glenwood Springs City Council earlier this month gave state transportation officials the green light on the design scheme for a new pedestrian bridge, one of two new spans that will be built across the Colorado River.
The walkway will likely add about $6 million to the $60 million cost estimate for replacing the existing Grand Avenue bridge, said Joe Elsen, a program engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation, on Tuesday.
CDOT is in the middle of a lengthy planning effort to build the new vehicular bridge, replacing a 60-year-old span that is functionally obsolete. State planners say the pedestrian bridge will alleviate impacts from the overall project, speed up the construction process and ensure customers can get to businesses near the existing bridge when it is shut down.
But the City Council in May balked at the initial set of schematics for the pedestrian span, saying they were concerned that the three presented options “did not reflect the character of the community,” according to a state press release issued Monday.
Mayor Leo McKinney said Tuesday that the council didn’t send CDOT completely “back to the drawing board.” But there was input from the council and citizens that planners could better incorporate historic elements of surrounding buildings like the Hotel Colorado and the Amtrak train station, he said.
CDOT’s press release says there will be several shorter towers with architectural elements consistent with the city’s historic character. City Council members unanimously backed the tweaked CDOT plan on Aug. 1, the press release says.
While the new Grand Avenue bridge for vehicles will shift to the west from its current alignment, ending near the westbound Interstate 70 exit ramp and the Village Inn restaurant, the pedestrian bridge will be built where the existing bridge is, Elsen said.
It will “clear span” the Colorado, meaning CDOT will not build a pier in the middle of the river, he said.
City Council still has concerns about the features at the ends of the pedestrian bridge that will allow people to access the street below, McKinney said. Ideas for an elevator or, conversely, a ramp feature that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act have been floated to tepid responses.
The city would be charged with maintaining and providing security for an elevator, meaning it would have to hire someone to watch the area overnight, McKinney said.
The council “wasn’t too thrilled” with the ramp feature, either, he said.
On the north end, the bridge will end near the intersection of 6th and Pine streets. Placing a ramp structure there would “take away a pretty distinct viewshed” in front of the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Co., McKinney said.
No decision has been made on that portion of the project.
The pedestrian span itself will play a critical role in the building of the vehicular bridge, according to CDOT.
There are electric, fiber-optic, water and other utilities running beneath the existing bridge, infrastructure that will have to be relocated when construction begins in 2015.
The goal is to get the pedestrian bridge in place before building the other bridge, Elsen said. That will allow CDOT to use the pedestrian span as a conduit for the utility lines, a move that could speed up construction that is expected to last into 2016.
“It’s definitely going to be a good move to get that in place and get utilities moved over to it,” Elsen said.
Having the pedestrian bridge in place when the current Grand Avenue bridge closes will also allow access for businesses in the area.
“We really have a strong commitment to the stakeholders in the area, and we want to make sure we always have pedestrian connectivity in there,” Elsen said. “The pedestrian mobility issue is always a big one, really in any resort community.”
He said the business community near the bridge suffered when the span had to be shut down a few years ago for new deck work, something CDOT wants to avoid this time.
The public can see conceptual renderings of the pedestrian bridge in the lobby of Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 West 8th St. The model will also be available every other week at the Downtown Market in Centennial Park on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m.
For more information on the project, go to www.coloradodot.info/projects/sh82grandavenuebridge .