By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
This time next year, residents might not recognize Highway 133 through town but they’ll probably be familiar with features such as a temporary signal at Colorado Avenue, Main Street closures at approaches to the proposed roundabout at Highway 133, and at least two detours.
Roadway construction on the $6.7 million project is scheduled for April through October 2014, with utilities work tentatively scheduled for September through November of this year, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation memo.
Folks living in Carbondale in the 1980s and 1990s remember when CDOT was widening Highway 82 from Aspen to Carbondale and all its attention and money seemed to be focused there, rather than on upgrading the two miles of two-lane highway that runs north/south on Carbondale’s west side.
At the time, CDOT told Carbondale that funds would not be available for Highway 133 until just about now. It turns out, CDOT expects to have 90 percent of the project designed by September and expects to put the project out for bids next February.
CDOT’s Project Leadership Team (PLT), which is not a decision making group, held its final meeting at town hall on June 20. Discussion topics included:
• Landscaping, which will be designed by the town for areas that will be disturbed by construction;
• A proposed piece of sculpture (possibly a James Surls) for the roundabout at the intersection of Highway 133 and Main Street;
• Lighting at the roundabout and on the sculpture, and lighting for a west-side trail between Village Road and Main Street;
• Dedicated pedestrian crossings with flashing signal at Cowen Drive and at Sopris Avenue;
• Other design considerations looked at: Cowen Drive (the proposed crosswalk), Village Road (southeast corner curb/ramp improvements), Industry Place (the configuration of a possible roundabout), Nieslanik Avenue (a permitted roundabout, pending development in the area), Keator Road (ultimate configuration, right in/right out), Weant Boulevard (configuration of a possible roundabout), Snowmass Drive (a proposed signal), Meadowood Drive (a proposed crosswalk and curb/ramp improvements).
At least one section of Highway 133 will not be included in the project: Align Sopris/Hendrick into a full movement intersection. “(There’s) no budget to include this work … at this time,” the June 20 PLT hand-out states. Among the expenses for reconstructing this intersection: right-of-way acquisition. Reconstruction also has potentially “big impacts” on adjacent landowners.
Of the $6.7 million budgeted for the project, $5.4 million is coming from CDOT. Carbondale is putting up $500,000; Garfield County is paying $800,000.
A time and place for the July 17 open house for CDOT to explain the project has not been determined.