Our hosts in Glenwood Springs for the Low & Slow Tour were Stan and Cindy Orr of the Association of Equipment Management Professionals (AEMP) whose world headquarters is on the 800 block of Grand Avenue in the heart of the Rocky Mountain town. AEMP hosted Mrs. Martin and myself at their annual meeting in Orlando, Florida this year. Yes, that’s right, Mrs. Martin went to Disney World - all expenses paid. Impressive is their association’s membership. They are aligned with our sponsor’s on the Low & Slow Tour, APWA and CASE Construction Equipment. Many of the professionals who manage the fleets at the departments of public works are members as well as departments of transportation. The heavy equipment manufactures are the founders of the organization.
Cindy sent word to us that we had rooms at Hanging Lake Inn. Old school: kind, clean and even retro in their use of brass keys. The small family-operated motel gets better reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor than the some of the bigger chain hotels. Cindy even went by and said to us, "I was pleased at how nice it is! Plenty of parking near your room, great views, continental breakfast, pillow top mattress, and very clean.”
Cindy went on to say, "Enjoy the drive tomorrow. You will be seeing the most beautiful 18 miles of interstate, according to Frommers.” How right she was. Stunning was the trip down along the Colorado River. I-70, rivaling a section of highway in Hawaii called H3, is mind bending beautiful. I wrote about Glenwood Canyon in my book, “The Roads That Built America’ because I loved the story of who the job was done right - I also love tunnels.
The canyon walls were untouched by the roadway that floats over the river and weaves between walls. The segmental concrete viaducts are colored to match their environment. Designers even went as far as to build plywood bride piers so Glennwood Canyon citizens could judge for themselves how this would all look. Today, the Big Road, I-70, is a masterpiece. An example of how to build a highway. However it wasn’t always that way.
The State of Colorado Department of Transportation proves to the driver heading east out of Glenwood Springs on I-70 how far it has come from the days of rip-and-tear and blow-and-go. Rough hewed open cuts in the beautiful canyon walls are scars on the landscape reminders of how the Big Roads use to be built. That type of destructive construction is probative in today’s road building culture. The section of I-70 immediately prior to the treasured scenic skyway though Glenwood Canyon reveals the way of days past.
When I think of the Grand Avenue Bridge project I am hopeful that CDOT Region 3 does the project with the expertise they showed in Glenwood Canyon. My advice to Glenwood Springs. Remain involved. See CDOT as a powerful ally that must be watched as much as they should be trusted. CDOT has become a progressive organization because of communities like Glenwood Springs, that forced CDOT to do build a beautiful roadway, perhaps the most stunning scenic way in the world, back in the 1980s. It’s my hope that Glenwood Springs and its people keep improving there new bridge right to the bitter end. Sitting in your town’s Hot Springs Pool for a medicinal dip before heading towards the Pacific Ocean I thought to myself, “There’s the Grand Avenue Bridge at the end of the 400 foot long pool. Man, I hope the new one is better looking.”