Edwards motorists face one more summer of road construction

CDOT tells county officials that 2020 work won't be as impactful for traveling public

Cars navigate the new roundabout at the intersection of Highway 6 and the Edwards Spur Road. Crews will return to the site in May to install landscaping.
Daily file photo

EAGLE — Based on anecdotal evidence, Eagle County Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney believes the Edwards roundabout project completed last year has been a big community success.

McQueeney said that when her personal errands or official duties find her speaking to Edwards residents, she brings up the topic. “People seem very pleased,” she said.

Now officials from the Colorado Department of Transportation hope to repeat that success as they look at a second summer of construction in 2020.

Earlier this week, CDOT Project Manager Matt Figgs presented the Eagle County Board of Commissioners an update regarding the Edwards Spur Road. He noted that 2019 was a hectic construction season at the busiest intersection in the county as crews built a new two-lane roundabout to replace the four-way traffic light at U.S. Highway 6 and the Edwards Spur Road. Additionally, new roadway and pedestrian bridges were built over the Eagle River and underground utilities were installed as part of the construction project.

“It (the roundabout construction) was a great success because we did it outside of the school year and finished 10 days ahead of schedule,” Figgs said.

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Unfortunately, that feat did not extend across the entire project. Construction crews will be back at work in Edwards this summer to complete a four-lane vehicle bridge and a pedestrian bridge and connecting trail work over the Union Pacific railroad tracks.

Massive layoffs

“Due to massing layoffs by Union Pacific, we were delayed in getting our construction permits from them,” Figgs said. “Our goal now is to have the bridge open for four lanes by September.”

Figgs said that while Union Pacific delays pushed construction to a second summer, the railroad has granted an at-grade crossing permit. That decision will make for an easier construction scene this summer.

“We can work from below and build up,” Figgs said. “We feel it’s going to be a lot less impactful for the traveling public.”

Eagle County Senior Engineer Rickie Davies concurred. “I think it is going to be very low impact to the traveling public for the rest of the project.”

Figgs said the cost impact of continuing construction into a second summer will be around $525,000.

“We have enough in our construction budget, by a slim margin, to afford that cost,” he said “ We have been proactive and our contractor has been working with us very well. We are being very strategic with how much this all costs.”

The total project cost — including design and engineering — is approximately $26 million, Figgs said.

Road in action

With motorists now becoming accustomed to the new road alignment, McQueeney asked if crews have had to tweak the design.

“Are the pedestrial crosswalks working as we hoped they would,” she asked. “Are they in the right places?”

Figgs said that after a summer where pedestrian access through the construction area was difficult, motorists have seemingly embraced the crosswalk configuration. He noted that as soon as the roundabout shift was made, drivers quickly figured out how pedestrians would navigate the intersection.

“We do feel they are in the right spots,” Figgs said.

Construction at the Edwards site is on hiatus until May, when crews will complete landscaping and begin work on the railroad bridges.

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