Landscaping, art planned for roundabouts

They’ve endured hours of meetings, scrutinized plenty of plans and gathered input from business owners up and down Horizon Drive. For years, members of the Horizon Drive Business Improvement District have dutifully stood behind tables and in front of flip boards, answering questions at open houses.

So imagine the excitement recently when group members were informed they had been granted $4 million by the state for first-phase improvements for Grand Junction’s most important entrance off Interstate 70.

“Let’s be real about it,” said Bill Milius, a board member of the Horizon Drive BID. “Most of the hotels are out there. Most of what everybody sees is out there.”

Traffic backs up under the overpass during morning and nightly rush hours. “It’s right on the verge of becoming a parking lot under the interstate,” Milius said.

The state’s Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships program, known as RAMP, approved a $5 million project that includes double roundabouts at both off-ramps at I-70 and crosswalks. The grant requires a 20 percent match. The Horizon Drive BID will pay $500,000 — $400,000 in 2014 and $100,000 in 2015. The city of Grand Junction is expected to pay $500,000 in 2015.

Work on the double roundabouts, one near the underpasses on each side of the interstate, is expected to begin in November 2014. Improvements should be completed in advance of the 2015 Junior College World Series. Also slated for the first phase are some crosswalks and bike lanes. More crossings, landscaping and refined travel lanes are slated for future phases of the route.

Milius said he wasn’t convinced that roundabouts were all they are cracked up to be when one was installed at 12th Street and Horizon Drive. He thinks differently now, especially when traveling along Seventh Street.

“It may not be a lot faster, but it’s a lot more pleasant,” he said. “They’re a lot safer. I think, long-term, we’re talking about a major economic improvement to the community.”

Horizon Drive BID president Chuck Keller said the roundabouts “won’t be sterile at all” because board members are working with the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Department to set an inviting scene.

The roundabouts also may contain some art, he said.

Grand Junction Engineering Manager Trent Prall said the Horizon Drive project was in the running for the state money along with Mesa County proposals to extend 29 Road to the interstate and another plan to improve an area by Hookless Boulevard, near Whitewater Hill. 

Horizon Drive BID members had been working on a corridor plan since 2006. There will be another open house in the coming months to inform people about the Horizon Drive improvements, Prall said.

“We’re trying to make this as multi-modal as possible,” he said.


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