Highway plan draws crowd in Carbondale | AspenTimes.com

Highway plan draws crowd in Carbondale

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – A proposed traffic roundabout at Main Street and Highway 133, and other highway improvements, drew a couple of dozen residents to the Carbondale Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

“I hate roundabouts,” said Main Street Gallery co-owner Sally Norwood, seated to one side of the packed meeting room in Town Hall.

She quickly clarified that she does not believe they are the best option for moving traffic efficiently, and wanted to hear more about this specific plan.

The following day, Norwood said she feels the Main Street roundabout is likely to be built, and that she feels somewhat better about it.

“I feel like, now, I want to put my effort into making it as safe for pedestrians as possible,” she said.

She said she favors a pedestrian overpass or underpass at Main Street, rather than simply having bikes, pedestrians and cars all on the road level.

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After two hours of discussion between the trustees and representatives of the Colorado Department of Transportation, the only public comment came from local businessman Terry Kirk, another a roundabout skeptic.

Kirk urged the trustees to accept public comment on the proposal before CDOT gets so deeply into the design process that changes become unlikely.

“Our input is basically worthless at that point,” he said.

Three CDOT representatives gave a detailed presentation about the plans for improving Highway 133 from the bridge over the Roaring Fork River to the intersection at Main Street and further south.

Ultimately, the project could include roundabouts at other intersections, improvements to pedestrian and bicycle trail connections, and possibly pedestrian and cycling overpass or underpass crossings at one or more intersections.

But for the immediate project, there is a limited budget of $4.4 million in construction funds, according to CDOT. That is on top of $400,000 in state money for design, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation, according to CDOT.

In light of that budget, the current plan calls for:

• The Main Street roundabout.

• Shoulder widening and addition of a middle lane for left turns from two directions, between Delores Way and Main Street.

• Asphalt resurfacing between Cowen Drive and Delores Way, and between Main Street and Meadowood Drive.

• A new trail along the west side of Highway 133 between Main and Hendrick Drive.

• A pedestrian crossing signal at Hendrick Drive.

Construction is expected to start in summer 2013.

The improvements project is being driven, in part, by traffic projections that predict 26,000 cars per day on the highway, though some trustees questioned that prediction.

Trustee Allyn Harvey asked where all those vehicles would be coming from, or going to, given the lingering recession.

Roland Wagner, a CDOT engineer, said that the figures came from locally-generated development projections.

He specifically mentioned the River Edge planned subdivision halfway between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale as a possible source of shoppers and visitors to Carbondale.

Harvey also questioned the design of the Main Street roundabout, maintaining that the “splitter islands” intended to keep cars from going the wrong direction in the roundabout, are too long and will interfere with access to nearby businesses.

Trustee Pam Zentmyer requested traffic numbers, specifically for the intersection of Main Street and Highway 133, which were not included in the information provided to the board on Tuesday.

It became clear at Tuesday’s meeting that much more discussion is needed before the trustees can give direction about the project.

At the invitation of Mayor Stacey Bernot, the CDOT representatives plan to return for another meeting on Oct. 30.

jcolson@postindependent.com

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