Edwards readies for roundabout construction, spur road widening and new bridge
EDWARDS — It won’t be easy to navigate through Edwards next year, but motorists will get a big reward for putting up with the inconveniences.
Phase 2 of the Edwards Interstate 70 spur road improvements project will launch in February 2019 and will include a new roundabout at the spur road and U.S. Highway 6, widening of the spur road, bridge reconstruction and pedestrian improvements.
The total project cost is estimated at $21.75 million, with Eagle County and the Edwards Metropolitan District contributing 36 percent of the cost, roughly $7.825 million total or $3.9 million each.
Project manager Jacob Rivera and project engineer Matt Figgs, of the Colorado Department of Transportation, last week met with the Eagle County commissioners to outline the construction plan.
Rivera said the department conducted an extensive public outreach program as it was designing the project. “It was very clear to us that safety was the biggest concern for the community. They just wanted us to make this safe,” he said.
The roundabout is the biggest change proposed in the Phase 2 improvements and the two-lane design will replace the current traffic signal.
But Rivera noted the other aspects of the plan will also work to make the spur road safer for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
He said the Union Pacific Railroad granted a variance for the work, which gave CDOT more flexibility for design.
“It also lowered the cost. We were really afraid we wouldn’t be able to afford this project without the variance,” said Eagle County Commissioner Jill Ryan.
The plan now includes a pedestrian/bike path below the roadway that connects the areas east and west of the spur road. Additionally, the bridge project will remove two piers in the Eagle River.
Rivera noted CDOT initially thought removing the bridge piers would add cost to the project, but ultimately the single span design cost was comparable to a three-section, two pier bridge.
“We thought if we are going to do work in this area, lets try to make it better,” Rivera said.
Figgs noted most people have the same questions about the project — when, how long and will the road be completely closed?
Answering the last of those questions first, Figgs said the construction plan anticipates keeping one lane of traffic open throughout construction. There will be some night work closures as crews work on the bridge and utilities.
Construction is slated to begin in February and be largely completed by the end of 2019. Figgs said landscaping of the project will be completed in 2020.
“This project was originally anticipated as a two-year construction. We have worked really hard and we think we have that down to one year,” said Figgs.
The spur road work and the roundabout construction will be separate jobs. The spur road work will launch first and is scheduled for completion by mid summer. The roundabout job has an ambitious schedule driven by traffic demand at the intersection.
“Traffic is heaviest during the school year for this section,” said Figgs. “We plan to do the majority of the construction after the school year is over. We are taking on the challenge and goal of building this roundabout in eight weeks.”
Figgs clarified that the eight-week goal is for a functioning roundabout, not a completed one. The traffic lanes will be built first and the traffic pattern will switch over, but the interior island and traffic islands will be built after the roundabout is already functioning.
While the one-year schedule is ambitious, Figgs said the team believes it is achievable.
“We have the same project team that built the Vail underpass and we feel pretty good about the team that will build this,” said Figgs.
In the months leading up to the construction, Rivera and Figgs said CDOT plans an extensive public information campaign to prepare residents and visitors for construction.
The commissioners questioned the team about the reliability of the project cost estimates.
“This has been in the works for years and it seemed like a heavy lift for the partners,” said Ryan. “We just weren’t sure we could get the costs to a management spot.”
The $3.9 million each for the county and the metro district is the financial sweet spot, the commissioners noted, complimenting the three-way project partnership. Along with traffic improvements, the commissioners noted the project will result in water service improvements and better connectivity all around the Edwards community.
Jon Asper flashes a million-watt smile as he empties a clip on the machine gun some friends helped him fire at a local gun range.