By Owen Woods | email@example.com
THE curve at the end of Stadium Drive is too sharp. And the house that sits there may be too old. Before another connection is made from the Rio Grande’s north side to its south side, the curve may have to be flattened and the house may have to be demolished.
This doesn’t mean Alamosa’s newest bridge won’t be constructed. It just may not be happening as soon as some trail users and residents would like.
During the Alamosa County Commissioner meeting on Tuesday, Alamosa’s Outdoor Recreation Supervisor John Reesor said construction on the pedestrian bridge should begin “roughly” by 2026, and explaining then to the county commissioners why.
Even with some new bumps in the road, Reesor’s dedication to making sure the project gets done, no matter the time element, was apparent.
In August, the city of Alamosa received $4.77 million of federal funding through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, grant to pay for construction. Reesor said the city hopes to have the grant agreement in place with the Department of Transportation around July to begin accessing the money.
“We’re trying to move this project forward as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
An optimistic Reesor brought with him an updated timeline. Things are already off the ground, but an intensive planning and logistics process, a potentially “historic” road bump, and lengthy design process could push bridge completion back nearly three years later than first anticipated.
The first tentative timeline had completion in 2024.
Prefacing his presentation of the new timeline, Reesor said, “This is the most conservative and possibly the most worst-case scenario of how long it would take to implement the project. If anything, this project should be implemented more quickly. … Most conservatively, we hope to have the bridge built by 2027.”
Construction should begin “roughly” by 2026.
Before construction can begin, permitting, design, and engineering phases have to be completed. The stickiest is the right-of-way approval process. Part of the project requires the acquisition of private property on Stadium Drive.
“There are potentially historic buildings on those properties which complicates things potentially,” Reesor said. “We don’t know yet. We haven’t determined, officially, if they’re historic or not.”
This historic site assessment could take about 18 months, Reesor said, and that it’s “a longer timeline than what we had initially thought when we applied for the grant, but this is just the reality.”
At nearly the sharpest point of Stadium Drive’s infamous curves, sits a bungalow from the 1930s. This house may, or may not, have some historical significance. If it does, the city will have to look at alternative locations to set up a bridge access area.
The design and type of bridge is also still up in the air. There are a few options. The grant application included a free span design, but Reesor says they’re working with Federal Highway Administration engineers to determine what “makes most sense for our community.”
“We need to basically settle on a type of bridge before we procure a design firm to go ahead and design that bridge for us,” Reesor said.
Cost is one factor for determining a bridge design, but Reesor also said that the bridge’s floodplain capacity is a big factor, too. Placing large supports in the river could cause problems to the levee system. “You’re potentially constricting the river…. You’re basically obstructing the water from flowing through, decreasing the effectiveness of the levee system any time you put any material in the river.”
Alamosa’s levee system has to be recertified by the Army Corps of Engineers within the next five years. Reesor said they’re working closely with Rachel Baird and the city’s planning and development department to make sure the bridge is “accounted for in that new engineering plan.”
Then, of course, the visual appeal of the bridge is a big consideration. “We want a bridge that fits in our community,” Reesor said.