Edwards highway work starts next year
What’s the project?
Where: U.S. Highway 6 from Squaw Creek Road to the Avon Road roundabout.
Cost: Roughly $4.4 million.
Work includes: New pavement, four-foot shoulders for cyclists and improved bus stops.
Work starts: In 2014.
EAGLE COUNTY — The stretch of U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and Avon has needed work for some time now. That work starts next year and includes a lot more than just fresh asphalt.
The project will include a fresh road surface — which is much needed in places — but will also include wider shoulders for bicyclists, improvements to bus stops and a turn lane for westbound traffic at Lake Creek Road.
Putting all that work into a relatively few miles of state highway took a lot of work between state and local officials. It also required pulling money from several funds the Colorado Department of Transportation uses for different projects — if the state agency was a jacket, it would have several pockets.
For instance, one pocket provided money for the paving work, while another pocket paid for improving road drainage at Bull Run Road and Lake Creek Road.
Securing Project Funding required teamwork
Martha Miller, the state agency’s resident engineer in the Eagle office, said getting money from all those funds was a challenge. For one thing, the agency doesn’t have enough money to handle all the state’s needs.
For another, Miller said the state tends to focus its efforts — and cash — on interstates and similarly busy roadways. The stretch between Squaw Creek Road and Avon is widely viewed in Denver as “rural” roadway, which also complicates lobbying for improvements.
That’s where local participation helped. Eagle County and town of Avon helped with cash, as did the metropolitan districts and community authorities — the de facto governments — in Edwards, Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch Village.
The Beaver Creek Resort Co. also pitched in. The final result is that about $530,000 in local funds will go into the $4.4 million project.
That local money will result in more work than the state could have funded, no matter how many of its pockets were tapped for cash.
County engineer Eva Wilson said the state had money for road maintenance, but not to add capacity — turn lanes, broader shoulders and the like. That’s where cash from local pockets came into play.
Money from the county’s ECO Transit agency will be used to pave some bus stops and put in “taper lanes,” small areas that allow buses to get at least somewhat off the road when pulling over.
A little extra pavement could also help create a smoother ride for passengers.
A lot of work
But rounding up local funds required a lot of work and involved a lot of different people. By the time the project was complete on the design side, eight local and state agencies were involved.
Those talks weren’t just between engineers and administrators, either.
Doug Cahill, general manager of the Bachelor Gulch Metro District, said that agency’s participation required an OK from the district’s board of directors. But, he added, that OK was relatively easy to secure.
“What we do is to enhance the homeowners’ experience,” Cahill said. Since many of those homeowners are cyclists and a few sit on the board of directors, it was easy to get that group to agree to help.
Safer for cyclists
Beaver Creek Resort Company Executive Director Tim Baker echoed Cahill’s remarks about making the road safer for cyclists. And, he added, guests don’t know, or care, who’s supposed to be paying for a shoulder or a bus stop.
“They don’t see the lines of jurisdiction between towns, the county and state,” he said.
This project is a good example of bridging those lines to get a lot of work done, he said.
“We got everything we needed in this corridor,” Miller said. “It’s really remarkable. It’s amazing how these smaller entities have stepped up.”
‘Good for the community’
Avon Mayor Rich Carroll agreed, saying the project next year will be “good for the community.”
“It’s sorely needed,” he added. “And it’s great we’re getting it done as quickly as possible.”