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Glenwood Springs Bridge Repair At Center Of Controversy

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The Grand Avenue Bridge (credit: CBS)

The Grand Avenue Bridge (credit: CBS)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The bridge across the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs badly needs repairs, but how to get them done is stirring up controversy.

Even with a dozen options and millions of dollars, fixing the Grand Avenue Bridge isn’t going to be easy. It’s a bridge that’s outlived its lifespan by a decade already.

“It’s on the state’s list of poor bridges,” Colorado Department of Transportation engineer Joe Eisen said.

While the problems with the old Grand Avenue Bridge keep mounting, a solution that pleases everyone has been hard to come by.

“There are a lot of people saying, ‘Fix the bridge, it’s too narrow.’ Again it was designed in the 50s with a 50-year life span as a two-lane bridge and then in the 1960s it was expanded out,” Eisen said.

Originally there were 12 options for a new bridge design to get traffic over the Colorado River and into downtown Glenwood Springs. Wednesday the final four were presented and Flower Mart owner Dennis Bader is scared two of the options would wipe out his building.

“If you lose that at our age that’s a big deal. This is our retirement plus our jobs, and in this economy it’s difficult to find jobs or re-establish business,” Bader said.

On the other side of the river boutique owner Nicole Nelson says she favors any new bridge.

“We need another way to go about this because that bridge can’t hold the traffic and it’s a tough situation,” Nelson said.

A recent driver study showed 15 percent of people who travel through town purposely avoid the bridge.

“It’s a vital link for the Roaring Fork Valley. State Highway 82 leading up to Aspen; it’s one of only two ways across,” Eisen said.

CDOT has set aside about $60 million for the project and expects to have a final decision on what to do next by the end of the year.

If the environmental assessments goes well CDOT hopes to have construction started by fall of 2014.

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