U.S. 6&50 project shifts east
The tens of thousands of Grand Valley motorists who braved construction on U.S. Highway 6&50 near Mesa Mall for the better part of a year during 2010 and 2011 should prepare for another season of cone zones, delays and slower driving speeds on one of the busiest roads in town.
The trade-off, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, will be a wider, safer highway.
Crews will begin work April 9 on a $4.3 million project to improve the highway between 24 3/4 Road and the 25 Road-Riverside Parkway intersection. Workers will repave U.S. 6&50 with concrete, widen it to three lanes in each direction, consolidate access points along the highway frontage roads, add sidewalks on each side of the highway, build curbs and gutters and install a new storm-drain system.
In May, traffic will be removed from the four-lane highway and diverted onto the frontage roads on the south and north sides of the highway. Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in each direction.
The project, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of October, is the second phase of a three-phase plan to widen the highway between 24 Road and Rimrock Avenue. The $9.5 million first phase, covering 24 to 24 3/4 roads, was finished in July after a year of work, which included a three-month winter break. The third phase will cover 25 Road to Rimrock Avenue and is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013, assuming funding is available, said Pete Mertes, CDOT program engineer.
The 4-year-old Riverside Parkway has pulled some traffic off U.S. 6&50, but the highway still carries between 28,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day, with higher counts near Rimrock Avenue. And traffic projections show a four-lane highway won’t provide adequate capacity by 2030, Mertes said.
He noted a CDOT study showed the accident rate on the highway between 24 Road and Rimrock Avenue is 10 percent higher than the statewide average for a similar highway.
“There’s been a history of different kinds of accidents — rear-end accidents, sideswipe accidents,” Mertes said.
State officials attribute part of the danger of the highway to the fact multiple access points from the frontage roads allow motorists to turn across multiple lanes of traffic. The three-phase project will eliminate some of those access points. At the remaining access points, motorists who are on the frontage road and aren’t at a traffic signal will be limited to right-hand turns onto the highway.
State tax money is funding all phases of the project, with the primary source of revenue being a fund created in 2009 by legislation that hiked vehicle registration fees.