Carbondale to have some say in Highway 133 plan

John StroudPost Independent Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Town leaders will have a hand in planning for future improvements to the stretch of State Highway 133 as it enters Carbondale, with the formation of a local Planning Leadership Team, or PLT.The planning and design process is the same as the one being used by the Colorado Department of Transportation in Glenwood Springs to plan for eventual Grand Avenue Bridge improvements or replacement.The question in Carbondale revolves around CDOT’s preliminary design, as recommended in a 2004 study, for an expanded Highway 133 involving four lanes separated by a raised median, with pedestrian/bike trails on either side.A majority of the members of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission have objected to that design, preferring instead a three-lane highway, including two main traffic lanes and a dedicated center turn lane.”Some P&Z members felt the 2004 … design may serve more to bisect the community and not further the town’s goal for connectivity,” Carbondale Public Works Director Larry Ballenger wrote in a June 21 memo to the Town Board.Highway 133 splits the town, with the Main Street business district and the historic sections of town to the east, and the current City Market grocery store and newer subdivisions such as Crystal Village to the west.Especially since the town has recently started the process to update its comprehensive land-use plan, it makes sense to tie the Highway 133 planning into that, P&Z recommended.However, based on recent meetings with CDOT engineers, it appears the P&Z’s preferred entrance is out – unless the agency can be convinced otherwise through the PLT process, Ballenger said.Roland Wagner, CDOT area resident engineer, said the PLT is the best way to ensure local input in the planning and design process.”The Glenwood Springs Residency is hoping the template issues can be resolved through the Project Leadership Team,” he indicated in a recent memo. “The PLT will provide an excellent opportunity for the town to provide input.”The town was asked to appoint up to three members to the PLT, which may begin meeting as soon as this month. Representatives will also be appointed from CDOT, Garfield County, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and other local entities.Carbondale Trustee John Hoffmann reiterated at the Town Board’s June 28 meeting that he still prefers the three-lane option.By agreeing to use the PLT process, there is hope that CDOT “wants to build a highway corridor that we want,” he said.In the meantime, the trustees also agreed last week to enter a contract with CDOT to prepare an access control plan for Highway 133.Currently, the stretch of road that serves as the main entrance into town involves a hodge-podge of uncontrolled driveway and parking lot entrances. The goal would be to consolidate some of those highway entrances.CDOT has said the access control work would need to follow the PLT process to come up with a new highway