More roundabouts in Edwards?
Facing traffic woes and oncoming growth, officials eye road improvements
EDWARDS — Into the 1980s, Edwards’ center was nothing more than a stop sign at a T intersection, surrounded by the Gashouse, the post office, a gas station, and a few homes and ranches.
Today, a multi-million-dollar roundabout is being built to serve the community, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 30 years.
Even more growth is being proposed, and a sales tax was passed in 2016 to help with road work. Now, several more roundabouts and road improvements are being considered for Edwards.
Eagle County, the Edwards Metro District, the Colorado Department of Transportation and ECO Transit are moving forward with a $632,308 design project to examine three intersections on Highway 6 in West Edwards. They’ll look at how to improve the intersections for cars as well as pedestrians, cyclists and buses.
Other road improvements are being proposed by developers.
What’s being considered
Here’s a list of the intersections and improvements that are being considered:
• Likely a roundabout at Highway 6 and Hillcrest Drive, at the entrance to Lake Creek Apartments and the Villas at Brett Ranch.
“It is the desire of Eagle County to replace the intersection of Hillcrest Drive and Highway 6 with a three-leg roundabout,” according to the project summary.
Traffic can back up at Hillcrest Drive as cars try to make a left turn onto Highway 6, and school buses that are loading kids in the morning can exacerbate the problem, said County Engineer Ben Gerdes.
Todd Williams, who manages Riverwalk at Edwards and represents the Edwards Metro Board on the West Edwards road design project commitee, said the improvements are needed.
“Just getting out of Lake Creek Village and Brett Ranch is a pretty daunting task every morning,” he said.
The improvements should be fully designed by the end of 2020, but the project construction isn’t funded. CDOT has said it doesn’t have money for the project at this time, Williams said.
“At this point, it’s going to be mainly the burden of Eagle County and Edwards Metro to figure out the funding and hope for possible CDOT funds that come available,” he said.
• Possibly a roundabout at Fox Hollow Drive and Highway 6.
New developments there include the 120-unit 6 West Apartments and the planned 87-unit Residences at Fox Hollow. The design project will aim to determine whether a roundabout or a traffic light will be most appropriate there. Preliminary designs are expected to be completed by 2020.
• A roundabout at Lake Creek Drive and Highway 6.
A $4 million roundabout is being proposed by the developer of the Edwards RiverPark. It would provide connections to both Lake Creek Drive and the proposed Edwards RiverPark development, which includes 594 units of various housing types located on a 53-acre parcel at the former B&B gravel pit.
Dominic Mauriello, who is the planner for the proposed development, said the roundabout will significantly improve traffic flow at the intersection, including the currently problematic left-hand turn out of Lake Creek Road onto Highway 6.
Mauriello also noted that, according to the developer’s analysis, the Edwards Metro District is projected to receive about $7 million in revenue from the project in the first eight years, and about $1 million a year after that. He also said the county is estimated to receive $2.3 million in traffic impact fees from the development.
• A roundabout at the intersection of Edwards Village Boulevard and Edwards Village Boulevard, near Edwards Corner and Smiling Moose Deli. This roundabout is being proposed as part of the Mtn Hive project, a “co-living project” that includes 263 single- and double-occupancy units, ranging in size from 180 square feet to 300 square feet.
“It’ll work with other roundabouts to make traffic move smoothly though the system,” said Mauriello, who also works on the Mtn Hive proposal.
• A new road behind the Gashouse.
Matt Larson, a representative for the owner of the West End property, WHI Real Estate Partners, told the Edwards Metro Board on Thursday he has been working with adjacent landowners on a deal that would allow for a road to be built behind the Gashouse, connecting the Edwards spur road and Highway 6. It would create access for a development that would be built on the West End land.
“We’ve been working on the access for a lot longer than I hoped,” he said. “We don’t have a deal yet. I’d like to think we’re close.
A previous iteration of the project, which was proposed in 2016, called for 56 to 60 homes and a roundabout to access the site, likely at the Eagle River Preserve entrance. Jim Telling, of East West Partners, said the company pulled its plan to allow for the access issue to be resolved.
“We have expressed to WHI that we would like to be the developer once access gets solved,” Telling said.
Back in 2007, the West End called for a combination of 185 units — 113 free market, 72 employee housing units and 85,000 square feet of commercial space. But that proposal disappeared as the economy tanked.
• Potential improvements to the intersection of Highway 6 and Arrow Grass. This could be a roundabout or a traffic light, with pedestrian, bike and transit improvements as well.
Preliminary designs are expected to be completed by 2020.
The spur road project
In 2016, Edwards Metro District voters passed a 1 percent sales tax as a way for Edwards to help pay for road improvements.
It allowed for the metro district to pay for 18% of the $21.3 million Edwards spur road project, with 64% coming from CDOT and 18% from Eagle County.
The tax revenues could potentially allow the Edwards Metro Board to help pay for other projects in West Edwards. But how much, and how much CDOT and Eagle County would chip in, remains uncertain, said Ken Marchetti, Edwards Metro District administrator.
The spur road project will continue into next year, with a major piece still not yet begun. CDOT has not yet been able to get approval from Union Pacific to replace the bridge over the train tracks. CDOT cited “significant layoffs” at the railroad company as the reason for the delay.
“We’ve been making progress in our negotiations with Union Pacific for planned construction on the Edwards Access Road,” said Bob Wilson, a spokesman for CDOT. “Right now, we’re working with Union Pacific to develop an updated schedule for that area.”