Avon planning better lighting on Highway 6

Work should start either this fall or next spring

The town of Avon and the Colorado Department of Transportation are working on plans to improve pedestrian and bus rider safety along U.S. Highway 6.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and EagleVail can be dangerously dark at night. There are some fixes on the way.

The most recent accident, a Feb. 19 hit-and-run accident that took the life of an Edwards man, has revived comments about the need for better lighting and crosswalks along Highway 6.

The town of Avon and the Colorado Department of Transportation are working on projects intended to improve safety on the increasingly busy stretch of road.

In an email, Avon Town Manager Eric Heil wrote that the town and state, along with Eagle County, are working on a roundabout project at the intersection of Stone Bridge Drive and Highway 6. That project will result in lowered speed limits — and, it’s hoped lower travel speeds — on Highway 6 between Post Boulevard and Avon Road.

Heil added that the town is also working on building three or four pedestrian crossings with a safe zone in the highway median and additional lighting.

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There are initial designs for the project, as well as $2 million in state grant funding, along with with a $500,000 budget appropriation from a partnership between Avon and the county. Work is expected to begin either in the fall of this year or the spring of 2023.

Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 Communications Manager Elise Thatcher in an email wrote that the department evaluated safety improvements whenever a fatal accident is reported.

Thatcher wrote that evaluation goes over accident details to see if there are potential safety improvements that could reduce the chances of a similar crash.

Those improvements aren’t always easy to do. Heil wrote that some state rules and regulations can be “challenging to navigate.” But, he added, state officials have provided “guidance and support” for the town’s plans.

At the county level, Eagle County Engineer Ben Gerdes wrote that no lighting improvements are planned right now. But, he wrote, “we are looking at all transit stops and what improvements are needed.”

Gerdes added that county officials will soon seek funding through a state grant program for at least some of the top priority crossings.

While there are plans to upgrade safety along the highway, can those improvements coexist with Avon’s dark sky ordinance? Those regulations work to limit surface light pollution into the night sky.

Heil wrote that safety and dark skies can coexist.

Heil wrote that Avon uses pedestrian-activated flashing pedestrian crossing signs. And, he added, the town has LED street lights. Those lights are able to light streets and sidewalks with a similar brightness to old-style lights, but do a better job of directing light down to where it’s needed rather than up into the night sky.

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