Highway 6 fix starting | VailDaily.com

Highway 6 fix starting

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Daily file photo

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Construction work to widen and re-pave U.S. Highway 6 between Edwards and Eagle starts next Monday.

The project will add two-foot shoulders and put a new overlay on the road. The stretch, much of which has no shoulder and is in bad condition from winter weather, is heavily used by cyclists, and traffic officials have long agreed it isn’t safe.

Now, with a funding partnership between the Colorado Department of Transportation and the county, the project will be done in three phases over the next few years, starting with the first two miles east of Eagle this summer.

Traffic will be down to one lane Monday through Friday during daylight hours due to the construction, County Engineer Ty Ryan said.

The construction is expected to last for three weeks.

While the road closer to Edwards is in worse condition, the Eagle portion is the simplest terrain and easier to do construction on, Ryan said.

“We’ll use that stretch to make sure the design and such work out,” he said. “The other portions are tougher. There are cliffs and it’s narrower.”

The project, originally scheduled to start in May, was delayed due to an asphalt shortage, Senior County Engineer Eva Wilson said. The county had wanted to use money from road impact fees to pay for the work, but that revenue has been slow coming in, she said.

The agreement with the state is that the county will pay for the shoulder widening and Department of Transportation will pay for the re-paving. The shoulder additions for this summer’s project will cost about $300,000. Wilson said the next two phases are estimated to cost the county a total of $2 million.

“It’s hard to guess because of the fluctuating prices of asphalt,” Wilson said. “But we’d like to do both phases 2 and 3 next year if we can find the funding.”

While Highway 6 work may be moving forward, another proposed project in Miller Ranch is looking unlikely.

Surrounding metro districts and the county had wanted to add a turning lane to Charter School Road and widen Miller Ranch Road to alleviate traffic during school drop-off and pick-up hours. June Creek Elementary, the Charter School, Red Canyon High School and Berry Creek Middle School are all located near that intersection.

The surrounding neighborhoods had worried about school traffic once five schools will be open at once in the area.

The metro districts, county and school district had planned to split the costs of the project.

However, the cost of the project came in at $397,000, a much higher amount than originally estimated, Wilson said.

Both the school district and the metro districts said they would not contribute more than $75,000 each.

It is unlikely the county will pick up the rest of the increased cost, traffic officials said.

“That impact would just be for 10 minutes in the morning at one little intersection,” Wilson said. “We feel that money could be allocated to other projects.”

The plan is to wait for the schools to open and then re-examine the traffic impacts.

Some residents wanted faster speed limits and others wanted to slow things down, according to a county traffic survey. The online survey, which was conducted this spring, asked residents for comments and opinions on the usefulness of speed limits, signs and other traffic control devices on county roads.

One common response was to increase the speed limit on Squaw Creek Road. The posted speed limit is 35 mph, but most people go faster, residents said.

Also, some requested that Homestead speeds be kept down via police enforcement or speed bumps. In Singletree, suggestions were made to get rid of one of the stop signs at Berry Creek Road and Charolais Circle.

Engineers will do traffic studies and see if the suggestions are safe and feasible, County Engineer Ben Gerdes said.

The county has also been studying speeds on Water Road, which connects U.S. Highway 24 to Red Cliff. Town officials had told the Eagle County Sheriff that they were concerned about people were speeding down the road. The official speed is 15 mph, but no signs are posted.

A two-week study of the road showed that speeds ranged from 5.2 mph to 74.5 mph, with an average of 31.9 mph.

Because the road has no shoulder at parts and is narrow and curvy, Gerdes said that traffic engineers are recommending a 35 mph speed limit.

Staff writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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