Edwards roundabout work drags, business owners grumble | VailDaily.com

Edwards roundabout work drags, business owners grumble

Special to the DailyWork continues on the $11 million roundabout project that was mostly paid for by federal stimulus funds. The road work is now slated to be completed by Christmas, weather permitting.

EDWARDS, Colorado – Karen Schiros knows the roundabout work in Edwards will be worthwhile when it’s finished. But she, and a number of other business owners, are really, really anxious for the work to be done.

Schiros runs Edwards Express Tire Factory, a tire and automotive repair shop on the east side of the construction zone. She said her business has dropped 30 percent or more this year, due largely to the construction project.

“We’re fortunate to have a lot of loyal customers,” Schiros said. “But it’s been hard.”

Across the construction zone, in the Northstar building, Kristin Comerford said sales at the Subway sandwich shop there are way, way down from last year.

“That’s one of our best stores,” Comerford said. “My dad (owner Jim Comerford) is really concerned about holiday sales.”

When the work started in early spring, the construction schedule called for the project to be wrapped up – except for landscaping – before Thanksgiving. Today, American Civil Constructors is pledging to have the work wrapped up before Christmas – if the weather holds.

Project spokeswoman Jody Randall acknowledged that the original schedule was ambitious, but said the deadlines could have been met if not for a couple of time-consuming problems that designers didn’t foresee.

The first was that several utility lines weren’t where they were supposed to be. Working the project around those lines took time. Then there was the condition of sub-surface soil that didn’t meet project standards.

That soil required more excavation than expected, Randall said. That put another slowdown into the project.

But with the Christmas holidays approaching, Comerford is worried.

“We’re coming into a really important time of year,” she said. “We rely on these months.”

On the back side of the Northstar building, Marisa Aguilar can only wonder when the work’s going to be done. Aguilar is a partner in Crazy Mountain Brewing, which opened a brewery and tasting room in June. She said the road work is more than annoying – it’s potentially dangerous.

“The scariest part is driving in and out of here several times a day on deliveries,” Aguilar said. But business has been hit because of the difficulty of getting into and out of the parking lot, and the lack of any real pedestrian access.

“We had a group from Colorado Mountain College that was going to come over, but they looked at the intersection and decided not to,” Aguilar said.

The business people interviewed for this story all had variations on a similar story – hearing from customers who said they just aren’t going to come back until the work is done and traffic is somewhat normal.

Eagle County Commissioner Peter Runyon lives in Edwards and knows full well the frustration of residents and business owners. But he also has some sympathy for those doing the work.

“Considering they’re trying to build four circles under people’s feet, I think with a few exceptions they’ve done a pretty good job.”

But that doesn’t help the business owners who are watching the work and waiting for its end. And at least a few people wonder if they can believe the contractor’s pledge of a pre-Christmas finish.

“I sure hope it’s done by then,” Comerford said. “But it sure doesn’t look like it will be.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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