South Bridge

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Glenwood Springs South Bridge Environmental Assessment    

The 2002 Coal Seam Fire forced the evacuation of areas south and west of Glenwood Springs impacting more than 3,000 residents. A Federal Earmark for a South Bridge project was requested by Garfield County and awarded in 2005. In 2007, the City and County began an environmental assessment for the project.

About the Project

Purpose

The purpose of the South Bridge Project is to provide a critical second access between SH 82 and the western side of the Roaring Fork River in the south Glenwood Springs area. This new route would improve emergency evacuation, emergency service access, and local land use access.

This secondary access would respond to the previous 2005 congressional earmark for the Glenwood Springs South Bridge (new, off-system bridge), Public Law 109-59, 109th Congress.

Need

The following project needs for the South Bridge project are based on identified transportation problems:

  • Emergency access capacity and redundancy of the area located on the west side of the Roaring Fork River in the south Glenwood Springs area is limited. "Redundancy" refers to the transportation systems' ability to provide more than one independent way in or out of an area. This, in turn, allows the transportation system to accommodate variable and unexpected conditions without failure. Emergency evacuation needs include the increased local capacity to support both emergency vehicle ingress and evacuation egress. The lack of transportation system redundancy results in longer emergency service provider travel times between SH 82 south of Glenwood Springs and the study area. The lack of suitable access redundancy also increases the likelihood of a catastrophic occurrence where residents and visitors could be stranded if the existing primary access route is cut off due to natural and/or man-made causes.
  • General transportation access to the west side of the Roaring Fork River in the south Glenwood Springs area is constrained. Planned growth in this area will bring increasing demand for reasonable access to SH-82, the principal arterial in the Roaring Fork River Valley. Currently, the primary access route is via Midland Avenue and 27th Street, which is vulnerable to natural and man-made incidents.

Project Goals

  • Minimize environmental impacts to scenic, aesthetic, historic, and natural             resources
  • Provide an improvement that preserves community cohesion and                         neighborhood integrity
  • Provide a practical and financially realistic improvement
  • Minimize private property impacts
  • Safely accommodate traffic on area roadways
  • Provide an improvement that is consistent with local plans, regional plans,           and current studies
  • Provide a design that encourages multi-modal travel and does not preclude         future multi-modal improvements in the study area

Status of the Environmental Assessment

The Environmental Assessment (EA) for the South Bridge Project was released for public comment in October 2013. The EA evaluated two alternatives in detail: 1) No Action Alternative and 2) Alternative 10b (the Preferred Alternative). 

Click below to view or download the EA and appendices:

South Bridge Environmental Assessment (EA)

Appendix A - Safety Assessment

Appendix B - Traffic Analysis

Appendix C - Wetland Delineation Rept & FACWET

Appendix D - Agency Coordination 

Appendix E - Public Involvement

To address Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) concerns to preserve the corridor for future rail operations, the Preferred Alternative design was revisited and modified in 2016-2017 to include a new interchange with SH 82, which was presented at an August 2017 public meeting.

In 2018, more detailed survey, mapping, and design were performed showing that the new SH 82 interchange would have higher costs and impacts than originally estimated. The City and RFTA then evaluated an approach to the project design to reduce project costs and preserve the corridor for future rail use. It was agreed that the City will proceed with the original Preferred Alternative 10b evaluated in the EA (with certain minor design modifications, such as adding a new frontage road east of SH 82). If RFTA identifies the need to implement rail service in the future, the City will make necessary changes to accommodate rail service at the South Bridge connection. 

Project Schedule

The EA was completed in October 2013. Changes to the Preferred Alternative, and related coordination with stakeholders such as RFTA and Garfield County regarding these changes, has been ongoing since early 2014. FHWA will issue a decision document for the EA, which is planned to occur in summer 2019. Upon completion of the National Environmental Policy Act process, subsequent project phases will follow, to include:

  • Preliminary design (approx. 4 to 6 months)
  • The final design for funded phases (approx. 8 months to 1 year)
  • Right-of-way acquisition for funded phases (approx. 1 to 2 years)
  • Project construction (2+ years depending on funding and project phasing)

Public Meetings Held in 2013, 2017, and 2019

A public hearing was held for the Environmental Assessment on November 13, 2013. The purpose of the public hearing was as follows:

  • Present the findings in the Environmental Assessment (EA)
  • Provide details about the proposed project
  • Present impacts to environmental and community resources
  • Present proposed mitigation to minimize any impacts

Click below to see materials presented at the 2013 public hearing.

South Bridge Public Hearing Presentation 11/13/13

A public meeting was held on August 2, 2017, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Sopris Elementary School gymnasium, 1150 Mt. Sopris Drive, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The main purpose of the meeting was to present changes proposed for the Preferred Alternative design and obtain public comments.  At that time, design changes were proposed to address Roaring Fork Transportation Authority concerns that the project preserves the rail corridor for future rail use. Design changes included an at-grade crossing of the Rio Grande Trail (instead of lowering the trail to cross under the South Bridge alignment) which then required a grade-separated interchange at SH 82 instead of the at-grade intersection included in the EA.  These design changes are not being advanced. Other information presented at the meeting included project background and next steps, including completion of the EA process, final design, and construction timeframe.

Click below to see materials presented at the 2017 public meeting.

South Bridge Public Meeting Presentation 08/02/17

A public meeting was held on March 20, 2019, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Sopris Elementary School cafeteria, 1150 Mt. Sopris Drive, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The main purpose of the meeting was to inform the public that the design changes proposed at the 2017 public meeting were not being pursued.  At the meeting the City also presented minor changes made to the EA Preferred Alternative design and obtain public comments.  In 2018, more detailed survey, mapping, and design were performed showing that the new grade-separated SH 82 interchange would be costlier than originally estimated. The City and RFTA then evaluated an approach to the project design to reduce project costs and preserve the corridor for future rail use. It was agreed that the City will proceed with the original Preferred Alternative 10b evaluated in the EA (with certain design modifications, such as adding a new frontage road east of SH 82 and eliminating the previously proposed roundabout at the Four Mile/Airport Road intersection). If RFTA identifies the need to implement rail service in the future, the City will make necessary changes to accommodate rail service at the South Bridge connection. Other information presented at the meeting included project background and next steps, including completion of the EA process, final design, and construction timeframe.

Click below to see materials presented at the 2019 public meeting.

South Bridge Public Meeting Presentation 03/20/2019

 



  1. Terri Partch

    City Engineer