Roundabouts on the horizon

A project to replace traffic lighting with traffic loops on either side of Interstate 70 along Horizon Drive will go ahead.

The Colorado Department of Transportation approved funding Thursday for that project and 43 others statewide through its new Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnership Program, created last year to fast-track ready-to-go road projects around the state.

The Horizon Drive project, one of five in the region that received funding, is to begin in December 2014, said Lee Cooper, project engineer for the Grand Junction Public Works and Planning Department.

“We’ll be redoing that interchange, eliminating three signals and putting in two multi-lane roundabouts on each side of the interstate similar to what CDOT has done at other communities along I-70,” Cooper said. “Visitor’s Way that takes you up to the visitor center, that’s going to be rerouted and have a new alignment, and then Horizon 70 Court that takes you to the DoubleTree Hotel, that also gets realigned.”

Once that project starts, the city will push to get it done by the time the Junior College Baseball World Series begins in late May 2015.

The project is to cost about $5 million, $4 million of which will come from the RAMP program, CDOT spokesman Amy Ford said.

The program is a new effort started by Gov. John Hickenlooper and his road czar, CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt.

Rather than amassing full funding for projects over several years, the program funds multi-year projects based on the year of expenditure.

Doing it that way will allow the state, at least for the next five years, to increase transportation spending by about $300 million a year, CDOT officials say.

Thursday’s announcement includes about $580 million in funding for 44 projects.

Other regional projects include:

■ A one-time $5.6 million payment to Rifle to take over full ownership and maintenance of a 1.6-mile stretch of Colorado Highway 13 through town on either side of Colorado Highway 6;

■ About $10.4 million to Ridgway for numerous street improvements and adding street lighting, sideways, bicycle lanes and center turn lanes;

■ Rebuilding a cement box culvert on U.S. 550 near Ouray for $1.6 million; and

■ A $2.2 million project to add variable message signs on I-70 through Glenwood Canyon.

Earlier this year, communities across the state were asked to prioritize their major transportation needs.

For the Grand Valley, the Horizon Drive project actually was second on that list, said Todd Hollenbeck, manager of the Mesa County Regional Transportation Planning Office.

The top project was an interchange and extension of 29 Road to the interstate.

That project was rejected, however, because the county has yet to complete a needs study for it, which will cost about $1 million, Hollenbeck said.



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