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More Dowd Junction construction ahead

VAIL, Colorado ” Ghiqui Hoffman has decidedly unpleasant memories of her daily commute from West Vail to Edwards last year. It was slow. It was, at times, dangerous. A couple of times, the roundabouts in West Vail were completely jammed.

“It was just a joke,” she said.

Last summer, the Colorado Department of Transportation did a months-long construction project on the interstate that caused lots of traffic delays. An Eagle man, Dustin Scriver, died in August in a pileup while he was waiting in construction traffic.

The project will continue this year, moving eastbound through Dowd Junction and through Vail. But some changes in the way the project will happen have Hoffman and others encouraged.

Perhaps the biggest change is that work will happen at night in the hopes of reducing delays.

“I think it’s a start,” Hoffman said. “I hope that it’s going to be better.”

The project, which will run from late April through November, will include repaving the interstate from Dowd Junction to East Vail and building a higher barrier for another 1.8 miles through Dowd Junction. Work will happen from 6:30 p.m. through 6:30 a.m. Sunday nights through Thursday nights.

The $12.5 million project will also include a wider shoulder on westbound I-70 in East Vail for chaining up trucks.

Nancy Shanks, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, said the agency may have underestimated delays that last year’s project would cause. Shorter delays are expected this year, she said.

“Because the traffic amounts are less at night,” she said.

The contractor will also have an incentive of $10,000 per day to get the project done early, something that wasn’t in place last year.

The changes came after the Vail Chamber and Business Association held a meeting in November to discuss last year’s project.

“They claim they are committed to making it a more bearable project than it was last year,” said Kaye Ferry, the chamber’s executive director. “If it isn’t, we’ll have to do a lot of screaming.”

Vail businesses said they felt the effect of last year’s delays. Hoffman, owner of the Laughing Monkey in Vail Village, said fewer locals came to the store, perhaps staying downvalley instead of battling the traffic.

“It was hugely disruptive,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said she hopes the project’s migration to Vail this year won’t curtail business from the east, especially Denver.

Paul Rondeau, a Vail resident who knows Scriver’s family, said safety should be the No. 1 priority in this project. The transportation agency should investigate using portable “rumble sticks” that could make drivers slow down, he said.

And flaggers who warn people to slow down should be positioned accordingly as backup ebbs and flows, he said.

“Safety has to be No. 1, and that includes not only the workers but the traveling public,” Rondeau said.

Last year, CDOT resurfaced seven miles of road between Edwards and Dowd Junction, and built the barrier for about 0.6 miles through the junction.

This year, the agency plans to resurface nine miles of road from Dowd Junction and East Vail, and build the barrier for 1.8 miles from Dowd to West Vail.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or estoner@vaildaily.com.


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