2 roundabouts in Clifton?

Transportation agency makes US Highway 6 second in priority

A crossing guard leads a group of Clifton Elementary School students and adults across busy F Road Thursday after school. A lack of sidewalks currently forces the children to walk home in the bicycle lanes, but proposed improvements to the corridor would provide sidewalks and a pair of roundabouts.

A stretch of roadway between First Street and Clifton Elementary School has long been in need of improvements.

That’s the thinking of officials at the Colorado Department of Transportation, who have pegged the segment of U.S. Highway 6 as its second-highest local priority for upgrades. The state agency’s first local priority is to revamp the area around First Street and Grand Avenue in Grand Junction.

Designs in Clifton for two roundabouts, sidewalks, bike lanes and a raised median were presented to locals Thursday night in an open house format at Clifton Community Hall.

“This project has needed to be done since I was in grade school,” Orchard Mesa resident Kevin Holderness said.

Holderness said he attended grade school at Clifton Elementary School decades ago and the traffic and safety issues were a problem then.

“I understand the problems because I grew up in the area,” he said. “It’s only going to get worse.”

About 14,000 vehicles a day travel on the roadway, said Matt Casey, a project manager for the transportation department.  By 2040, an estimated 20,000 vehicles a day are expected to pass through the area, Casey said.

“We need to improve capacity and decrease congestion,” he said. “Congestion is a big one. We also want to improve safety with sidewalks and bus stops.”

Funding is secured for the project’s design, but construction funding of about $8.25 million has not yet been dedicated to the project. Casey said transportation department officials want to solidify design plans in the next two years in the event funding becomes available. Construction could begin in three to four years, Casey said.

The transportation department originally proposed a plan to install traffic signals in the area.

However,  that plan requires a larger median and less access for businesses along the route. Adding roundabouts increases safety along the corridor because motorists cannot directly cross the roadway or make left-hand turns. Motorists can enter the roadway and head to the right to use a roundabout to turn back the other direction.

“We started with the signal option, but we looked closer at it and it’s not a long-term solution,” Casey said.

A 12-foot median is required to reconstruct the roadway with signals. A 4-foot median would work with roundabouts. The extra space with roundabouts would not encroach as much on business access along the route, Casey said.

A reconstruction of the roadway would help alleviate drainage issues as well. Runoff water creates large puddles in front of businesses, Casey said. The transportation department also would like to bury all utilities underground, making the area safer and more aesthetically pleasing.

For information and to weigh in with your opinion, visit codot.gov/projects/us-6-clifton-improvements.


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