Edwards talks traffic, trains | VailDaily.com

Edwards talks traffic, trains

Chris Outcalt

Who they talked to: Eagle County Staff Engineer Ben Gerdes

What they talked about: A 2004 Edwards-area traffic study officials say is outdated and the need to draft a traffic project priority list.

Changes to the area have made the study outdated, Gerdes said

Gerdes said the county would be willing to split the $500,000 cost to update the traffic study ” the community authority would have to fund the other $250,000.

“It’s something I see used quite a bit in development files,” Gerdes said. “I think it’s a good thing to have updated to be current.”

The study would cover Highway 6 from Squaw Creek Road to Miller Ranch Road. A priority list of projects would also be completed at the same time, Gerdes said.

“I don’t want this to be just an update,” Gerdes said. “I want projects to come of it.”

Edwards Metro District Representative Todd Williams said the study and priority list could help identify the need for an Interstate 70 interchange at HIllcrest Drive.

The idea of a second Edwards exit has been talked about as a way to divert traffic from the main intersection and ease rush-hour traffic around Lake Creek.

The Colorado Department of Transportation could contribute funds to a roundabout project, but Gerdes said it’s not a top priority of the department.

What’s next? Task force member Ken Marchetti asked Gerdes to bring back more concrete cost estimates to the board.

“My initial gut sense is that it will be far easier to get commitments up front for the study part of it,” Marchetti said. “It’s hard to commit to future projects when we don’t know what they are yet.”

Who they talked to: Eagle County Engineer Greg Schroeder

What they talked about: Two statewide, high-speed rail system feasibility studies.

Edwards was identified as one of 24 potential station locations for a high-speed train along the Interstate 70 corridor, but wasn’t near the top of the list, Schroeder said.

Schroeder presented the task force with an overview of two rail studies being conducted by the I-70 Coalition and the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. Both groups are trying to determine whether a mountain train would generate enough riders to be cost effective and where would make most sense to have the train stop.

Vail and Avon are more likely to get stations if a rail is built, Schroeder said.

“They feel a large percentage of ridership would come from tourism,” Schroeder. “They didn’t see Edwards as a tourism generator directly.”

Edwards was behind Vail, Avon, the Eagle County Airport, Wolcott, Dotsero and Eagle on the station priority list, Schroeder said.

What’s next? The Rocky Mountain Rail Authority study is scheduled to be completed by June 2009.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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