New schools mean more traffic for Miller Ranch |

New schools mean more traffic for Miller Ranch

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

EDWARDS ” Miller Ranch resident Leslie Reed said she usually avoids the rush-hour wait with her work schedule, but her neighbors have commented on the traffic.

“I hear that the (stop) light is bad and that it’s especially worse with the school construction,” she said.

But the line of cars may get longer on Miller Ranch Road with the addition of new schools and an expanded entrance to Singletree on Winslow Road.

The road already is used by Miller Ranch residents, Berry Creek Middle School, the Charter Academy, Singletree residents and Colorado Mountain College.

Traffic studies estimate that more than 5,000 car trips will be added on an average weekday with the addition of June Creek Elementary, Battle Mountain High School and Red Canyon High School.

Some road improvements already are planned, including a roundabout at Battle Mountain High School and turning lanes at June Creek Elementary and the high schools.

Some residents worry that traffic could be worst around 8 a.m., when work traffic will coincide with the bell times of Battle Mountain High School, the elementary school and the middle school. School district officials said they may stagger bell times if it proves to be a problem.

“We’ll see when June Creek opens in the fall. It’ll give us time to assess,” said school district Communications Director Brooke Skjonsby. “Right now we just want to get these buildings up and open.”

Who will pay?

Some people think more needs to be done.

Originally, engineers wanted to build a roundabout near the elementary school. The school district offered to donate the land and pay for the design and construction management if Eagle County would pay for the nearly $500,000 in hard construction costs. However, the idea was off the table after the county decided it was too costly.

Instead, county traffic engineers thought a right turn lane on Charter School Road might help ease the congestion.

The proposal was to split the cost of the lanes among the Edwards metro districts, Eagle County and the school district. The metro districts still are discussing the idea, although some members were hesitant to pitch in.

Most of the traffic will be from students and parents, so the school district should be responsible for putting the lane in, they said.

Eagle County has said it would be a willing partner.

“We know that most of the traffic is the result of the charter school and new elementary. We see them as the main contributors. But to be fair, the metro districts influence and use those roads a lot, too,” said Greg Schroeder, senior project engineer for the county.

The improvements that are planned should keep the road at its current level of service for the next 10 years. However, Schroeder said the road is bound to be busier and slower once the schools open.

“With the addition of the schools, we’re going to see increased traffic ” we’ve always known that,” he said.

But the school district has done its part for the road, school officials said.

It is already putting $1 million more into the road improvements than originally agreed on, Chief Financial Officer Phil Onofrio said.

He also pointed out that original plans for the road included the new schools but not additional use by Singletree residents and people who use it to bypass part of U.S. Highway 6.

“It’s getting more use than originally thought. Our goal was to keep traffic limited and slow, but the community has found the road useful,” he said.

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