Cost for interchange west of Eagle: $40 million
As cars stack up along U.S. Highway 6 and Eby Creek Road in Eagle every morning, residents repeatedly ask the same question: Why doesn’t the town pursue an Interstate 70 connection on the west end of the community?
That’s exactly what Eagle Town Engineer Tom Gosoirowski has done and the news is predictably costly ” somewhere in the $40 million range.
One of the key elements of the Eagle River Station, a large retail and residential project proposed east of town, is construction of a new I-70 interchange at the site. However, as the town’s Board of Trustees and Planning Commission review the proposal, citizens have repeatedly questioned whether the developer’s interchange can really help alleviate the town’s existing traffic congestion. There’s talk that an interchange on the west side of town, serving airport and Gypsum traffic, would be more effective.
Gosoirowski stressed that his research regarding a west Eagle interchange is very conceptual.
“Construction of a new interchange on the interstate highway system involves a lengthy and complex, multistage approval process,” said Gosoirowski. That process includes receiving approval for a formal interchange access request.
Connecting the Sylvan Lake roundabout to I-70 would involve crossing the Eagle River, Gosoirowski said. He speculated that bridge construction would add approximately $5 million to the overall project. Additionally, the difficult topography would require retaining walls and in-fill for areas where gravel mining has occurred.
His initial estimate for the design and construction for the west Eagle interchange is approximately $40 million, excluding the cost to purchase right-of-ways.
that Much of the right-of-way needed for a west Eagle interchange belongs to Eagle County and that would presumably cut costs in that area, Gosoirowski noted. Nevertheless, he said the $40 million price tag is daunting.
“This is a considerable sum for a town operating on a $5 million annual budget,” he said.
Gosoirowski added that it is highly likely that any state or federal funding would be available for the project. The state is also short on highway funds.
In their review of Gosoirowski’s analysis, Eagle Town Board members noted they had been repeatedly asked about a west Eagle interchange. Having even a speculative cost estimate for the project helps answer questions.
As for pursuing the option, board members also pointed out that Eagle County owns much of the right-of-way in the concept area. Mayor Ed Woodland stated it would be up to the county to pursue an interchange in the area.
In the bigger picture, ta west Eagle interchange could be a preferred alternative to an Eagle County Regional Airport interchange. That project is estimated to cost upwards of $80 million. Neither the state or the federal government has allocated funding for the long-anticipated interchange, which is proposed as an elevated roadway that would connect I-70 to Cooley Mesa Road.
For now, however, town officials indicated that even on a conceptual level the costs associated with a west Eagle interchange place the project outside the community’s reach.
“By and large, I’m supportive of the concept,” Woodland said. “Now it resides within Eagle County’s sphere.”
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