Study to consider Edwards roundabout
September 2, 2014
EAGLE — Local and state governments are spending $1 million to study and design another possible Edwards roundabout.
This one would be at the intersection of the Edwards Spur Road and U.S. Highway 6.
When Edwards last went to roundabout town, the design was in place when the federal government started handing out stimulus money like participation trophies at a youth soccer banquet.
Toward that end, Eagle County is putting up $250,000, the Edwards Community Authority is putting up $250,000 and the Colorado Department of Transportation is putting up $500,000 to pay for the study and design.
Eagle County's share comes from its road impact fees, fees charged to developers to help offset the cost their projects will have on the county's roads and other infrastructure.
The money begins the process and nothing is decided, said Cliff Simonton, Eagle County's long-range planner.
Whether the intersection of Highway 6 and the Edwards Spur Road becomes home to another roundabout or remains under the loving embrace of a traffic light remains to be seen, Simonton said.
SMALL-TOWN FEEL VS LEVEL F
The pot of gold at the end of all those public meeting rainbows would be to come up with a plan that accommodates future traffic growth while maintaining what some Edwards residents say is their small-town feel. They'll also need to define "small-town feel."
"What elements contribute to that small-town feel. Height of buildings? Views?" Simonton asked.
On the other hand, traffic projections put that intersection at Level F in 10 years. Among other things, that could means sitting for two or three red light cycles before you get to turn left, Simonton said.
If it remains a signaled intersection, one of the cures could be two left turn lanes. However, that could mean eight lanes of asphalt, Simonton said.
Half the population
While Edwards is not an incorporated town, almost half the county's population lives there, almost 20,000 people at the last census.
Many commute to jobs in other parts of the county, and people from the rest of the valley travel there for any variety of reasons.
"Edwards is not a silo, so it's not just about Edwards," Simonton said. "There are valleywide considerations."
The study and design would remain relevant whether or not federal funds become available in the near future.
"When it comes to designing a road, not a lot is going to change," Simonton said.
ROUNDABOUTS NOT ROUNDLY LOVED
Connie and Jeremy Irons own the Gashouse, Edwards' oldest business. They told the commissioners during Tuesday's meeting that they're skeptical that another project that size is necessary.
"All this disruption would be for a roundabout that's not needed," Connie said.
The Gashouse survived the last round of road construction in Edwards, four roundabouts that started with $11 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, the 2009 federal stimulus package passed in 2009.
That project put four roundabouts and new Interstate 70 interchanges in Edwards and took two years to build.
"CDOT has already spent millions to build roundabouts in Edwards and is spending at least that much in Eagle. Eagle County got that money for Edwards at part of the federal stimulus money because it was ready — the project was designed," said Sara Fisher, county commissioner.
Fisher said something is eventually going to happen in Edwards, citing two bridges that need to be replaced.
"Over time, improvements will be made. How those will be made remains up for discussion," Fisher said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.