Motorists will grapple with construction as they drive to, through and out of Eagle this summer.
Tuesday night, Colorado Department of Transportation Regional Engineer Martha Miller presented an update of summer 2013 projects planned around town to members of the Eagle Town Board. The good news is that several long-term traffic problems will be addressed during the next two years. The bad news is lots of construction is hitting at the same time.
The big ticket item for Eagle is the Eby Creek Road project. The $14 million plan involves building four new roundabouts along the busy town corridor and expanding the existing roundabout at U.S. Highway 6. But in addition to that project, town board members learned Tuesday night that CDOT is also planned to replace the bridge over Brush Creek on the west end of town and complete resurfacing of Interstate 70 between Eagle and Wolcott. Additionally installation of fiber optic cable from Vail to Gypsum to coordinate with the CDOT information network is planned this summer.
Miller noted this summer is actually the culmination of more than five years of work on the Eby Creek Road project. Studies of the roadway began back in 2008 and design of the road improvements were completed in 2011. The only thing that was tying up the project was money, and luckily that fell into place this year.
Miller stressed that Eagle's willingness to help fund the project was one of the reasons the Eby Creek Road work is proceeding this year. The project has a hefty price tag but Eagle will contribute approximately $4.7 million toward the design and construction work.
"CDOT really values these partnerships," said Miller. "The town of Eagle has been a great example of how, by partnering with others, we can stretch our dollars further."
Two weeks ago, the CDOT/Eagle Eby Creek Road project team hired Flatiron Construction as the construction manager for the project. Miller noted the team wanted to bring in the construction manager earlier than usual to meet several goals, including development of a communications program to inform residents and motorists about the work. She said that Flatiron has already floated several communications proposals, including a "Business of the Week" idea that would give extra publicity and perks to an operation impacted by the construction.
Additionally, Miller said Flatiron will be involved in outreach programs designed to minimize project impacts.
"Construction is messy. It is inconvenient. The question is how are we going to get though it together the best way we can?" said Miller.
Hopefully, she added, those challenges will happen sooner rather than later. Initially, the project team anticipated that the funding for the Eby Creek Road work would be released around July 1. Miller said there is now a possibility that the money will be available in March or April. Actual construction is slated to begin in August and the schedule for this summer includes building roundabouts at Market Street and the eastbound and westbound I-70 interchanges. A pedestrian bridge over I-70, east of the current interchange bridge that would actually connect near City Market, is also part of the first summer construction. Next year, the project will tackle the Chambers Road roundabout and improvements to the U.S. Highway 6 roundabout.
"This is a pretty tremendous achievement. It's a long process and it's taken years," said Mayor Yuri Kostick. He noted that, in particular, the new pedestrian bridge will be a great aesthetic improvement for the town. The bridge will feature a Town of Eagle side that spans I-70.
As for the combination of the Eby Creek project with the other Eagle-area CDOT road and bridge work, town board members agreed its going to be a messy summer. But, they noted, the inconvenience will ultimately mean a much improved gateway to, through and out of town.
In other action the Eagle Town Board:
• Approved a $11,500 grant to the organizers of the Eagle Outside Festival from the town's marketing fund. The donation came in a mixed vote with Kostick and town board member Anne McKibbin in favor. Town board member Brandi Resa voted against the expenditure and member Joe Knabel abstained. Members Scott Turnipseed, Scot Webster and Mikel Kerst were absent. While all the members present voiced support for the concept of a mountain bike race, running race and equipment demo event in May, Resa and Knabel questioned the funding amount.
• Voted to institute a temporary moratorium on marijuana clubs in town. Several communities in Colorado are enacting similar moratoriums in anticipation of the Colorado State Legislature enacting new rules following the success of a ballot initiative last November that makes it legal for people 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and consume it in private.
• Heard a brief update regarding the search for a new Eagle Town Manager. Manager Willy Powell plans to retire this summer following a 30-year tenure. The town has received 39 applications for the town manager opening.