Candidates take on Highway 6 traffic |

Candidates take on Highway 6 traffic

Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – With this summer’s construction on Interstate 70 between Wolcott and Avon, more people are using U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and Avon. That’s created some pretty sizable traffic jams, as well as this week’s question for the three people running for Eagle County Commissioner.This week’s question: Traffic on U.S. Highway 6 between Avon and Edwards can be pretty heavy, especially between 5 and 6 p.m. This is a state highway, but what, if anything, can the county government do to ease traffic flows along that stretch of road?

People can use I-70. Of course I-70 can get congested, too, but it is much safer than old Highway 6.A better solution for a number of reasons is mass transportation, buses now and eventually light rail. Mass transportation cuts down on congestion, pollution, and accidents. It’s also cheaper and much less of a strain on the driver who becomes a passenger.Union Pacific has rail easements throughout the west including a route that goes through Leadville and Rifle. If UP gets seriously into the local passenger business, life will be easier for almost everybody. And employees who can’t afford to live here will at least have a much less expensive and easier option for getting to and from work in Eagle County. Stations at Avon and Edwards should be a part of the system. Don’t expect this to happen overnight but I think in the long run it’s inevitable. I will push for it as a commissioner.More paved lanes on Highway 6, other than completing the bike path which needs to happen, are not a good option in my view. I think we should be reasonably selective about more pavement anywhere in the county.

To ease traffic flows along Highway 6 the county could look into increasing the number of lanes and installation of a roundabout at Highway 6 and the (Edwards) Spur Road. The county currently requires dedication of land along Highway 6 from new construction projects to provide for future widening. Construction funding for any improvements along the state highway would need to be heavily supported by the Colorado Department of Transportation, but initial planning to get the project started could be encouraged with the county taking the lead and collaborating with Avon, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Edwards-area metro districts. If traffic studies show a need for widening and/or roundabouts, then planning should be started now so that future traffic can be accommodated. The county currently sees the traffic problems at the Edwards I-70 exit and an interstate exit for the airport, which would be located west of Eagle, as more immediate needs. Engineering drawings are currently being prepared for the anticipated 2007 construction of three roundabouts at the Edwards I-70 exit. The studies and drawings for this project have been funded by the county, CDOT, and Edwards area metro districts in a collaborative effort similar to what I would suggest be used to determine and solve problems along Highway 6.

Traffic congestion is not only an issue from Edwards to Avon, but up and down our valley and in the Roaring Fork as well. Just last Tuesday it took six signal changes, nearly 15 minutes, for me to get from City Market in Eagle onto I-70. As Eagle County’s population continues to grow, so will our traffic concerns. The Edwards area metro districts have joined forces and funds with Eagle County and the Colorado Department of Transportation to underwrite the costs for designing and engineering future construction of roundabouts at the I-70 interchange and Miller Ranch intersection. Using this model of collaboration, we need to form a multi-jurisdictional transportation coalition and examine and plan for long-term solutions countywide. Eagle County can certainly lead this effort and with participation and input from other entities, we can focus on transportation solutions for the future. Funding is limited and CDOT’s priority list is long, but by working together now we can be ready on our end when improvements are able to be made.

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