Three months in, Edwards roundabout work is focused underground
When school lets out for summer, crews will shift to eight-week roundabout construction plan
EDWARDS — Colorado Department of Transportation crews have been at work on the new Edwards roundabout for three months, but for the motoring public it’s difficult to see what progress is being made.
“It seems like we are continually digging holes and nothing is getting finished,” said Matt Figgs, CDOT project engineer. “But there is a lot of underground work and infrastructure improvements that you never see but that make up an important part of our project.”
That work includes a new Eagle River Water and Sanitation District water line, storm drainage structures and utility lines. Figgs noted there is about as much work happening under the pavement as will happen above it and everything is complicated by the fact that the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and the Spur Road that connects the unincorporated town to I-70 is one of the busiest in Eagle County.
The Edwards Interstate 70 spur road improvements project launched in February 2019 and will include a new roundabout at Spur Road and U.S. Highway 6, widening of the Spur Road, bridge reconstruction and pedestrian improvements. The total project cost is estimated at $21.75 million, with Eagle County and the Edwards Metropolitan District contributing 36 percent of the cost, roughly $7.825 million total or $3.9 million each.
While construction crews are focused on underground projects now, that will soon change. When Eagle County Schools breaks for the summer, work will shift to roundabout construction.
“Peak traffic at the intersection is 11 percent lower in the summer months, when school is not in session,” Figgs said. “So we are using this strategic window to get a functional roundabout in place in just eight weeks. The goal is to do it in two simple phases when we start building it.”
Before the roundabout construction begins, motorists will see some large changes at the intersection. Temporary traffic lights will replace the current overhead traffic signals and the current three-lane configuration will shrink to two lanes — a dedicated left-turn-only lane and a through/right turn lane.
Work is also under way at the new vehicle and pedestrian bridges spanning the Eagle River and the Union Pacific railroad tracks, Figgs said.
Figgs said crews have demolished part of the existing bridge and removed old piers from the Eagle River. The new bridge will span the river without structures placed in the water.
“That is coming along quite well, as well as the foundation work on the pedestrian bridge,” Figgs said.
But the project is looking at a delay regarding the railroad bridge project. According to Figgs, there have been some significant layoffs at Union Pacific, delaying the negotiations for the bridge agreement.
“We still don’t have final approval, but we are still working hard on that,” he said.
Because of the negotiation delays, the railroad construction may shift to 2020, Figgs said. Currently, the schedule calls for completion of all project construction by December 2019. Final landscaping will happen in the spring of 2020.
As road construction commences and the intersection layout changes, Figgs appealed to the traveling public to help out the crews.
“The biggest thing we ask for is patience because there will be delays,” he said. He also made a plea for distraction-free driving — paying attention to traffic flows and flaggers instead of electronic devices.
Figgs added that Edwards businesses will be open and accessible during the construction. “But if there are alternative ways to get where you are going, that’s a good practice.”
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Eagle County Schools has released a draft document detailing how the school district intends to return in-person and hybrid instruction starting Aug. 18.