Eagle: Will shopping center drive up traffic? | VailDaily.com

Eagle: Will shopping center drive up traffic?

EAGLE, Colorado ” The developers of the proposed Eagle River Station project hope drivers will take 24,000 trips a day their shopping center east of town.

But, they maintain, the majority of those vehicles will be entering the shopping center from Interstate 70 via a new interchange planned as part of the project.

The Eagle River Station crew last week presented its traffic study to members of the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission, which advises the Town Board on development proposals. With Eagle already grappling with congestion on Eby Creek Road, any traffic added by Eagle River Station has emerged as a hot-button issue.

Eagle River Station has proposed four entrances. The first would be the new east Eagle I-70 interchange. Additionally, there will be two entrances off of U.S. Highway 6.

The first is located approximately one-third of the way through the development where Chambers Road would curve to the south. The second Highway 6 entry is at the spur road to the new I-70 interchange. The development would also be accessed via Chambers Road from Eby Creek Road.

The developer would pay to build roads and infrastructure. Eagle River Station has proposed to recoup some of that money by sharing a portion of the sales tax collected at the new shopping center.

“Having a second interchange is a huge benefit to the town, no doubt,” says Town Engineer Tom Gosiorowski.

Vehicles, he says, only have one option to reach I-70 in town: Eby Creek Road. With the new interchange, some of that I-70-bound traffic will likely elect to go further east.

But even if drivers decide to use the new interchange, Gosiorowski says, they still would have to travel through the Eby Creek roundabout, already one of the town’s busiest intersections. For that reason, he says, the town will be looking to Eagle River Station for improvements to its most congested roadway. For instance, the town may ask for Eagle River Station’s help expanding the Eby Creek roundabout to two lanes.

In the meantime, the town is proceeding with an Eby Creek traffic improvements plan in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation and Eagle County. The plan is slated for completion this year and will outline specific projects and costs for the corridor.

Several area residents, meanwhile, a west Eagle interchange that would take pressure off Eby Creek Road makes more sense.

Paul Witt, representative for Eagle River Station, says there are several reasons why that suggestion isn’t practical for the developers. Trinity RED, the Eagle River Station development team, doesn’t own property in west Eagle. The proposed east Eagle interchange is on land the developers do own.

The east Eagle site also is flat and close to I-70 while terrain in west Eagle is more difficult and any interchange would require a river crossing, Witt says

Cost estimates for a west Eagle interchange run as high as $50 million to $60 million, he says.

“This project could never pay that much,” he notes.

Finally, if they are building a new interchange, the developers want it to directly access their project.

“The east Eagle interchange would have instant, significant positive impacts on Eagle traffic issues,” says Witt. “We hope we can do the east Eagle interchange relatively quickly.”

The Trinity RED team also included five roundabouts in their road plan. The roundabouts would be located on the north and south sides of the new interchange; at the entrance to Eagle River Station along the interchange spur road; at the spur road connection; and at the Chambers Road connection.

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