Glenwood: CDOT ignored I-70 requests
July 20, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Glenwood Springs City Council says the Colorado Department of Transportation ignored requests for safety improvements that the city wanted to include in the Interstate 70 Exit 116 reconstruction project.
But it may be too late to change the plans.
The City Council is requesting that the Colorado Department of Transportation include three concrete pedestrian crossings at the Sixth Street and Laurel Street intersection. The improvements to the pedestrian crossings would be included in the reconstruction project, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 17.
According to a letter to Weldon Allan, CDOT Region 3 director in Grand Junction, City Council has made its concerns and requests known to CDOT engineers since the project was originally planned “several years ago.” The letter states that the requests for the concrete crosswalks were brought to CDOT engineers at at least five different meetings.
“The city’s concern is simply stated as a safety concern for pedestrians,” the letter reads.
According to CDOT resident engineer Joe Elsen, the requests were not ignored, but there was a communication breakdown along the way with what the city wanted and what eventually was included in the plan.
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“I think where the miscommunication occurred was different ideas were put out there during the process, and I guess [this] is one that fell through the cracks,” Elsen said.
With the project scheduled to begin mid August, a contract in negotiation and funding already secured, Elsen said that it may be too late to include the city’s requests.
“Change orders are complicated for a couple of reasons,” Elsen said. “It adds to the costs, negotiating a price, and impacts the duration of the project.”
Elsen indicated that contract negotiations are ongoing with Scott Contracting, a front-range-based contractor. He said that included in the contract there is an early completion incentive to get the work completed as quickly as possible, to minimize impacts on commuters, travelers and nearby businesses.
City Council stated in the letter that traffic control during construction and funding limitations are not insignificant but should not prevent the construction of these important safety measures at this time. They claim that the additions should not add significant costs to the project either.
“We are confident that we both can now design and construct new crossings that clearly show the pedestrians and bicyclists where they can safely cross this intersection and where drivers will also see more clearly these pedestrian crossings,” the letter reads.
Elsen said that the current intersection plans will provide sufficient and safe crosswalks.
“What we are going to provide is going to be safe,” Elsen said.
The project was moved up because it’s one of the shovel-ready projects statewide that qualified for funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The funding problem is that the original project was allocated $2.3 million. However, when bids started coming in around $1.9 million the remaining $400,000 in ARRA funds were allocated to other federal projects, according to CDOT Resident Engineer Roland Wagner. So the additional funds are no longer available for added costs at this late time.
The improvements recommended at Sixth and Pine Street were “minimal,” according to Wagner, who said that CDOT would likely be able to accommodate the city’s requests there. The city requested that CDOT realign an existing pedestrian walkway at the southeast corner of the intersection, keep the crosswalks seven feet wide, and to landscape a portion of another pedestrian island.
“We are going to work with the city at that location,” Wagner said.