Road construction finished in time for St. Nick

Genine Smith of Grand Junction rips off the last piece of caution tape Friday as the Colorado Department of Transportation declares the final phase of the U.S. Highway 6&50 reconstruction project complete. The redesign added 9-inch-thick concrete lanes and improved safety features east of 25 Road at a cost of $6 million. Smith works for CC Enterprises, the company that handled traffic control for the project.

Construction that drove some motorists and business owners crazy along U.S. Highway 6&50 wrapped up Friday. The third phase of construction on the traffic-heavy route started in April and is finished ahead of schedule.

Owner of La Bella Vita Spa Salon & Boutique, 533 Bogart Lane, said the construction “was the biggest pain,” but its completion is a relief.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air today,” salon owner Dora Holmes said. “At least I can say we have faithful clients. It didn’t stop them from coming in and we’ve been here 10-plus years.”

Holmes said she was pleased that construction officials kept her updated with emails on closed areas, so she could pass along the information to clients.

The $6 million Colorado Department of Transportation project was slated to be finished by mid-December, but it was expedited in part because local business owners allowed construction officials to shut down the intersection at Rimrock Avenue and the highway.

Crews also worked at night and on Saturdays to get the job done before the holiday rush.

Closing down the intersection for five days shaved two weeks off the project time line, said Matt Will, project supervisor of Lawson Construction, the contractor on a half-mile segment.

“Whenever we can pour straight through, it makes it even better,” Will said about concrete quality.

The project between 25 Road and where the highway splits off toward North Avenue and First Street includes an expansion of the roadway to three lanes in each direction. Crews replaced asphalt with concrete, medians were installed, landscaping and sidewalks were added, streetlights were updated and overhead utility lines were buried.

Lighting along the route was chosen to match the old-fashioned character of lampposts along the Riverside Parkway, said Tom Newland, spokesman for the project.

Substituting concrete for asphalt means the roadway should hold up much longer, Newland said.

“We won’t be back in here for a long time,” he said Friday during a press conference celebrating the road’s completion.

CDOT completed two other sections of U.S. Highway 6&50 in the past few years. Phase one improved the area around Mesa Mall, and phase two updated the 25 Road intersection.

Money for the project came from increases to auto registration fees, Newland said.

An abundance of direct entrances to businesses have been altered, creating traffic flow that resembles a frontage road.

Newland said some business owners had been opposed to the new routes, but the new design makes it safer for motorists to get in and out of businesses, he said.


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