$2.47M project designed to improve traffic flow in heart of El Jebel
Eagle County will start construction Wednesday on a project designed to improve traffic flow on El Jebel Road, an artery on the north side of Highway 82.
The major components of the $2.47 million project include a dedicated right-turn lane onto westbound Highway 82 from El Jebel Road, a center divider on El Jebel Road that will require vehicles to make a right turn into and out of commercial sites on both sides of the road, and a roundabout at El Jebel Road and Shadowrock Drive.
“I’m not an engineer, but I hope it works,” said Robert Hubbell, president of Crawford Properties LLC, which donated land for the roundabout and $213,000 in cash.
The road is plagued by two primary problems — an inadequate intersection with Highway 82 and a lack of safeguards for pedestrians, he said. The intersection has two dedicated left-turn lanes onto eastbound Highway 82 but one shared lane for traffic going straight and turning right onto westbound Highway 82. Traffic backs up on El Jebel Road starting about 4 p.m. because vehicles wanting to turn right are stuck by traffic waiting at the light to go straight, Hubbell said.
Pedestrians will benefit from the right-in, right-out only to El Jebel Plaza because they will have traffic coming from fewer directions, he said. It will make it easier for pedestrians, especially children, to get to and from the pedestrian underpass and El Jebel Mobile Home Park.
Crawford Properties owns most of the commercial and residential areas in the heart of El Jebel.
The new configuration will require changes in driving habits. Motorists departing after dinner at Bella Mia or Downvalley Tavern or those exiting NAPA Auto Parts or El Jebel Laundry won’t be able to pull left onto El Jebel Road. If they want to get back to the highway, they will either have to circle the roundabout or take Shadowrock Drive.
A person destined for Wendy’s or the adjacent Shell gas station won’t be able to turn left after exiting from Highway 82. They will have to circle the roundabout, backtrack and make the right-in turn.
When the project was approved by the Eagle County commissioners in July 2015, the county engineer at the time, Eva Wilson, said it would boost the level of service of the intersection from “C” or “D” to “B.”
The need for the roundabout is less clear. Shadowrock Drive currently gets a low level of use. That could increase if Eagle County approves the Tree Farm project, which contemplates 340 residences and about 135,000 square feet of commercial space at a site slightly upvalley. Shadowrock Drive would be a secondary ingress and egress for that project.
The necessity of the road project is being questioned by at least one El Jebel resident. Barb Forrest wrote a letter to the editor in The Aspen Times on April 5 calling the project a waste of money.
“This will not come close to solving the El Jebel Road intersection problems,” Forrest wrote.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is contributing $1.36 million through a Hazard Elimination Safety grant. Eagle County is contributing $900,000 through its road and bridge fund, capital improvement fund, general fund and road impact fees. Crawford Properties is contributing $213,000 and land.
Construction is supposed to be finish by Nov. 1. Roadwork is scheduled 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, according to project public information officer Sandra Sepaniak.
“While there will be lane shifts and lane reductions during the course of the project, there aren’t any planned closures. Currently, there aren’t any planned speed reductions, either,” Sepaniak said in an email.
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