Eby Creek Road improvements still a high priority in Eagle
EAGLE, Colorado – Three years ago, congestion along Eby Creek Road in Eagle was one of the town’s biggest concerns as motorists became increasingly frustrated with delays along the town’s bottleneck access to Interstate 70.
Then the national economy tanked and other issues were pushed to the forefront of the community’s agenda. But according to Eagle Town Engineer Tom Gosiorowski, the Eby Creek Road project hasn’t been abandoned and will hopefully be positioned to either nab some grant dollars or proceed to construction when the town’s coffers are less strained.
“What’s important to remember is the economy is going to come back at some point,” said Gosiorowski, “and the economy always rebounds quicker than local government can react.”
That said, Gosiorowski noted that very few things related to the Eby Creek project have proceeded quickly. He began planning for road improvements back in 2006. The effort has been a joint project between the town and the Colorado Department of Transportation. Additionally, Eagle County has provided financial assistance.
Last winter, the Eby Creek Road feasibility study was completed. The purpose of the study was to evaluate possible traffic improvements and to select the best solutions. From that process, the decision was made to eventually build roundabouts at all the major intersections of Eby Creek Road – Market Street, the west I-70 ramp, the east I-70-ramp, Chambers Avenue and U.S. Highway 6. As part of this plan, the bridge over the Eagle River would have to be widened to accommodate an additional northbound lane and a pedestrian bridge would be constructed across I-70, likely at a location to the east of the existing overpass.
With the feasibility study complete, work began on actual improvements design. According to Gosiorowski, the design work is slated for completion in December.
In August, the town began work with a group of designers on the landscape/lighting/urban design components of the project.
“An important goal for the town is to create a notable and attractive entryway into the community and this design work will lead toward achieving that goal,” said Gosiorowski.
“One of the more interesting aspects of this work is that we are looking at ways to recycle pieces of the green bridge on Highway 6 that CDOT plans to replace. We hope to use pieces of the old bridge for safety and hand rails, a safety shed roof where a bike path will cross beneath the railroad tracks and perhaps in other ways as well.”
The town is currently working with CDOT to finance the final phase of pre-construction planning. This work will include completion of the design and acquisition of some small right-of-way additions and temporary construction easements.
“We are asking Eagle County to lend its support in asking CDOT to provide additional funding support for this part of the project,” said Gosiorowski.
As for the big picture, the initial cost estimate to build the Eby Creek Road project is $16 million.
“If we had the money, we could likely start construction in 2012,” Gosiorowski said. But he also readily acknowledges that is a very big “if.”
Gosiorowski noted that at this time, there is no identified funding source for the project. However, this week the town applied for a TIGER II grant through the federal government, which would cover 80 percent of the construction costs.
“There is incredible competition for the limited TIGER II funds, but we believe we have a strong application and we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” said Gosiorowski.
“We still think that Eby Creek Road is the No. 1 capitol project for the town.”