Public gets chance to opine about El Jebel road proposal
May 31, 2012
EL JEBEL – Midvalley residents will get their chance Thursday to weigh in on a controversial plan to replace a major intersection in El Jebel and realign Valley Road along an edge of Crown Mountain Park.
The Eagle County Commissioners will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. at the Eagle County office building and community center. The county will outline its plan to deal with anticipated traffic increases south of Highway 82 that could be triggered by a proposed recreation center at Crown Mountain Park and an approved park-and-ride for a bus stop.
Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney said the current road configuration isn’t adequate to handle a greater amount of traffic. The commissioners want the complex of buildings, facilities and their access viewed as something “that works” in the future. That will require changes.
“To some degree, it’s a little bit of a clean-up,” Stavney said.
Not all residents view it that way.
Eagle County is proposing to replace the intersection of Valley Road and El Jebel Road with a roundabout farther from the highway, allowing greater stacking space for vehicles. In addition, Valley Road would be pulled south starting just west, or downvalley, of the Movieland complex. Realigned Valley Road would skim the small neighborhood park at Sopris Village subdivision, then cut through the northern edge of Crown Mountain Park. The result would be that Valley Road would be moved from the north side of the existing county office and community center to the south side.
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Residents of Sopris Village have overwhelmingly objected to the plan in open houses held by Eagle County. They contend traffic leaving the park-and-ride planned by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority will cut through the narrow streets of their subdivision, which doesn’t have sidewalks.
Other midvalley activists, such as Ted Guy, have objected to the plan for various reasons. Guy contended at an earlier county meeting that the roundabout could remain north of the Eagle County office building and still improve traffic flow.
Basalt Town Council also panned the plan in large part because of concerns over pedestrian safety.
Stavney expressed confidence that the proposal can be designed in ways to answer the concerns. Sopris Village’s park can be shielded from the realigned road, he said. Valley Road allegedly can be designed in a way that calms traffic.
“I see it more, in some ways, as a driveway than a road,” he said.
But the commissioner, who is up for re-election in November, acknowledged that it will be tough to please everyone on this issue. It is a “hot button” for many people in Sopris Village, he said.
It’s unclear how many users of the popular Crown Mountain Park are aware of the realignment proposal. The Eagle County surveyor’s staff is going to place stakes showing the roundabout and realigned road on the property Thursday, just hours before the meeting. The commissioners are going on a site visit at 5:30 p.m.
County officials contended it was senseless to place the stakes earlier to alert more park users about the proposed changes.
“If you put stakes up too early, they tend to disappear,” said Greg Schroeder, senior staff engineer for the county.
The road realignment is closely tied to the proposal for a indoor recreation center. The commissioners voted 3-0 earlier this month to direct their staff to prepare a resolution in support of the plan. The recreation center would be 61,000 square feet with the opportunity to expand. Funding must be approved by voters before the facility can be built.
Stavney said the roundabout and road realignment plan may end up sitting on a shelf for years if voters don’t approve funding for the recreation center. If only the bus stop parking lot is built, the road alignment will likely remain “status quo” for the foreseeable future, he said.