Mike McKibbin

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April 18, 2012
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Rifle road project aimed at safety, better traffic flow at key intersection

Rifle residents who grow impatient and perhaps frustrated at how long they have to wait to turn from White River Avenue onto Colorado Highway 13 to get to Interstate 70 could have an easier and quicker time in the near future.The city began working on the intersections of White River, U.S. Highway 6 and Highway 13 on April 9, causing traffic to be reduced to one lane in either direction on Highway 13 as it enters and leaves downtown Rifle. Assistant City Manager Matt Sturgeon said the project is aimed at improving traffic flow and traffic safety."We're expanding the median so there's only one lane from the First Street and Railroad Avenue stoplight to just past the White River turn so traffic stays to the right," he explained. "The second lane begins where traffic from White River turns onto the highway from a dedicated turn lane. That way you only have to worry about the traffic from I-70 coming into town."The changes will also include a ban on left turns by semis from westbound U.S. 6 onto the White River intersection, Sturgeon added. Instead, semi drivers will have to proceed to the First Street and Railroad Avenue stoplight and turn left onto Highway 13, to get to I-70, he said.The work, scheduled to be finished around May 18, is estimated to cost approximately $175,000, Sturgeon said. It is part of a larger traffic and safety improvement program undertaken by the city in and around the downtown area that, when complete, will total $1 million, he added. Half of that amount will be paid by the city, the other half with a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant, Sturgeon said.The larger program has or will include improvements to West Avenue and West 2nd Street, Sturgeon said, along with the design of both an extension of Taughenbaugh Boulevard to County Road 320 and the city's Gateway transportation plan.Sturgeon noted longtime resident and former mayor John Scalzo first proposed the traffic changes at the intersection of the three roads about three years ago.The intersection reconfiguration work is part of a long range plan of traffic and other infrastructure improvements known as the Gateway project, Sturgeon said. That project will take many years to complete and would include improvements such as extending Taughenbaugh Boulevard on the south side of the Colorado River.Sturgeon added that more work is planned at the First and Railroad intersection this summer. Kum & Go is building a new, larger convenience store on the west side of First and Railroad and replace the existing Kum & Go just east of that site. As part of that project, intersection work will include adding another turn lane for eastbound Highway 6 traffic to turn into the store. Sturgeon said that work is privately funded and did not know the exact date work would begin.

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The Post Independent Updated Apr 20, 2012 07:12PM Published Apr 18, 2012 05:24PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.