EAGLE COUNTY — Anyone who regularly drives U.S. Highway 6 between Avon and Edwards know that well-worn stretch of road needs help. That help is coming, and work starts in the next few weeks.
The Colorado Department of Transportation this year will take on a fairly extensive project on the stretch of road between Squaw Creek Road at the west end of Edwards and Avon Road — the entrance to Beaver Creek. The work includes much-needed re-paving, which will be the bulk of the approximately $4.5 million project. But local agencies — from Eagle County to the Edwards Metropolitan District to the Beaver Creek Resort Company — came up with about $350,000 for a few extras.
The biggest extra will be wider shoulders for the road, making bicycle travel easier. Bob Yost, the department of transportation’s project manager for the work, said those shoulders will be four feet wide on both sides of the road — mostly. Yost said there will be a few spots where the road simply can’t be widened or re-striped enough to provide a full four feet of shoulder space. But, he said, there will be more room for cyclists along the entire stretch of highway even in spots where the full four feet isn’t feasible.
Start Date Uncertainty
Yost said the department recently awarded a contract for the project to Oldcastle Southwest, an international firm which several years ago aquired B&B Excavating in Eagle County. Given that the contract was awarded fairly late in the getting-ready-for-construction-season season, it’s tough to tell exactly when work will start. Yost said the project could begin the week of May 19 or perhaps, a week later. Construction is expected to stretch into October.
While work is under way, Yost said at least one lane of the highway will be open virtually all the time, with brief full closures coming when equipment needs to be shuttled across traffic lanes. Still, motorists can expect some delays.
By the time work is done, though, one of the valley’s main streets will be in much better shape.
Along with new pavement and bike lanes, ECO Transit, Eagle County’s bus service, will have wider bus stops that should be safer for vehicles and passengers.
‘A Great Partnership’
Given the chronically tight funding at the department of transportation, Yost said the local groups’ participation was crucial in getting the bike shoulders and bus stops included in the project.
“It’s been a great partnership,” Eagle County Engineer Eva Wilson said, giving credit to the state agency for including community interests in the design.
State officials asked the Eagle County Commissioners for support for the project, then sent Wilson out to various local agencies. Those agencies serve as local governments for various parts of the county that aren’t within town boundaries.
Those other agencies include the Edwards Community Authority and Edwards Metropolitan District, as well as the metro districts in Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch. The Bachelor Gulch Village Association. The town of Avon also pitched in $50,000 for the work.
Collaboration is Key
While the funding partners were able to help provide enough money to create a better project, pulling the partnership together took quite a bit of time, Wilson said.
“I had to make several visits to everyone,” she said.
This project isn’t the first time the county, the state and local authorities have collaborated on a project in Edwards. The county funded the design for the Edwards roundabouts, which were funded in the first wave of federal stimulus projects that were first rolled out in 2009. The state handled the work — through contractors — and local authorities helped pay for landscaping.
The state/county/community partnership isn’t over, either. Wilson said design work will start this year on a project from Miller Ranch Road to U.S. Highway 6. That project will probably include a roundabout at the intersection of the Edwards Spur Road and the highway. But it’s going to be a while before that project comes to pass.
That’s probably a good thing. Five months of work on that stretch of highway should be plenty for motorists to deal with.