Two more stoplights slated for Highway 82 in near future | AspenTimes.com

Two more stoplights slated for Highway 82 in near future

The midvalley will be spared from construction of two freeway-style interchanges, but Highway 82 will sprout a couple of additional stoplights in the near future.

The Colorado Department of Transportation initially considered constructing grade-separated or diamond-style intersections at Highway 82 and El Jebel Road and at the highway and Willits Lane South. But CDOT planners were persuaded to drop those plans in negotiations with Basalt officials.

Basalt claimed the big-city solutions would be out of place with the rural character of the area, and that grade-separated intersections were unfriendly to pedestrians.

CDOT agreed in its joint study with Basalt and Eagle County to drop plans for the special intersections. Instead it will continue to rely on stoplights.

The study, known as a Highway 82 Access Control Plan, looked at improvements over the next 20 years along a five-mile stretch from the Eagle-Garfield county line to Emma Road in Basalt.

The study concluded that a stoplight is needed immediately at the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane North. That intersection cannot handle the traffic volumes during peak morning and afternoon commutes. Motorists will go out of their way to avoid it and use the El Jebel Road stoplight as an alternative, the study said.

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The report said the intersection is already functioning “at a poor level of service” at peak hours.

And traffic is just expected to get worse. A 100-unit hotel and significant amounts of commercial space are contemplated at the Willits subdivision.

“Traffic on State Highway 82 has experienced dramatic growth in traffic volumes,” the study said. “From 1988 to 1998, State Highway 82 has grown by almost 100 percent, going from almost 9,000 vehicles per day to almost 19,000 vehicles per day.

“The Colorado Department of Transportation is forecasting that State Highway 82 will grow by 50 percent over the next 20 years.”

Traffic data shows the Willits Lane North intersection already warrants a stoplight. It will be constructed immediately – or at least when funding is available.

The nearby intersection of Highway 82 and El Jebel Road is also expected to sink to the “poor” level of service within 20 years, yet no improvements are planned for that area.

But another intersection due for big changes is Original Road and Highway 82. The report anticipates the need for a stop signal there within five to 10 years.

Original Road intersects with Highway 82 by the Midvalley Medical Center. It will be turned into the main connector to the highway, and several other access points will be eliminated on safety grounds.

The highway plan anticipates building a bigger frontage road on the north side of the highway as well as a connector between Willits Lane South and Original Road.

While the stoplight at Highway 82 and Willits Lane North appears certain, the timetable for other improvements to the road through the midvalley appears remote.