County, CDOT mull Edwards road project | VailDaily.com

County, CDOT mull Edwards road project

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com

EDWARDS — Homestead resident Tania Landauer remembers the time when the main Edwards intersection consisted of a stop sign, the Gashouse and a gas station. On Thursday, she was looking at potential plans for the spot that could include a roundabout, new sidewalks and widened lanes, as Eagle County and the Colorado Department of Transportation begin to look at ways to prepare the area for the coming years.

Landauer was among dozens of Edwards residents who came to an open house on Thursday evening held by Eagle County and CDOT to find out what the needs and concerns are for the stretch of Edwards Spur Road between Miller Ranch Road and U.S. Highway 6 in the heart of Edwards. There are no fixed plans yet for the improvements, which are considered Phase II of a project constructed in 2010 that included four roundabouts at the Edwards Interstate 70 interchange. The stretch of road in question now leads from that interchange into the main Edwards intersection — a stretch that is expected to see up to double the traffic in the next 25 years, according to projections.

So far, $1 million is committed to the design phase of the Edwards project, shared between CDOT, the Edwards Community Authority and Eagle County. There are no funds yet for the yet-to-be-determined construction, although officials said that money from FASTER (vehicle registration fees) could help with the project. Ideas for future improvements include a roundabout at the Edwards Spur Road/U.S. Highway 6 intersection, a sidewalk and bike path, and up to four lanes on the Spur Road. Thursday's open house was aimed finding out what Edwards residents and other stakeholders wanted to see done on the road. Planners will present their findings and alternative ideas for the stretch of road in January. Construction on whatever final project is approved would start no earlier than 2018, said Eagle County engineer Eva Wilson.

Small neighborhood or growing town?

Among the issues that planners think Edwards will face in the future is improving pedestrian and bike access.

"A few issues that we know are critical include pedestrian access along the corridor," said CDOT project manager Karen Berdoulay. "We've heard people would like the intersection to be safer, as there are a lot of families and pedestrians who cross there. Also, there are no sidewalks along the Spur Road, so much so that people have cut trails into the side of the hills there. Then there's an avid biking community that we know would like to see that area be safer for riding."

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At the same time, planners are looking to the next 20-25 years, where traffic is expected to increase substantially. Right now, Highway 6 sees about 11,000 vehicles pass through that intersection per day. In 20 years, that number is projected to be 24,000 vehicles per day.

"We know that in 2040, this intersection won't perform like we need it to as it is," Berdoulay said.

However, as road planners and many local residents recognize, it will be difficult to simultaneously make the road safer for pedestrians and bikers and more conducive to road traffic.

"The trickiest part is that we recognize there will likely be some trade-offs," Berdoulay said. "Vehicles going through faster could conflict with safety of pedestrians and the 'small-town community feel.' We'll have to nail down the most important issues for people."

Community weighs in

Landauer, who has lived in Homestead with her husband for 28 years, said she'd like to see traffic slower on the Spur Road and safer for bikers and pedestrians.

"We like to walk and bike around, and we get that there's this main intersection right through the middle of town. It'd be nice to be able to go to the four corners of Edwards without worrying about driving your car all over the place or crossing busy streets," she said.

She suggested flashing lights that warn cars when pedestrians are crossing, raised crossings like those seen in Boulder, or a slow-traffic Main Street like that found in Frisco.

"We came to live a slower pace of life away from the city, not to watch this place turn into a city," she said.

Still others think road expansion is a good idea — as long as it comes with amenities for pedestrians and bikers.

"I am concerned that it's getting congested, and while a roundabout will make traffic flow better, it's not that safe for pedestrians," said Singletree resident Drex Douglas, who added that he'd like the addition of a path or sidewalk on the Spur Road. "I often ride my bike, but never on the Spur Road, because there's no room for bikes or pedestrians there."

Kathryn Regjo, vice president of Colorado Mountain College at Edwards, said she sees better roads and less car congestion as a positive thing, but she's also concerned about the impact for students.

"I think about the safety of students, and the ease of access for those who walk or who are trying to get to the bus," she said.

Assistant Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 or at mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

What do you think?

If you missed the open house, it’s not too late to tell planners what you think is most important about future improvements to the Edwards Spur Road. Go to http://www.eaglecounty.us/Engineering/Edwards_Interchange_Project or email Karen Berdoulay (Karen Berdoulay@state.co.us) or Eva Wilson (eva.wilson@eaglecounty.us) to submit your comments online over the next few weeks. Planners will present the results from the public input and present several alternatives to the community in January 2016.