Highway hope and highway promise
July 17, 2014
With the reconstruction of Highway 133 and all the associated hassles under way, it's a good time to pause and think about some of the rewards that are coming our way.
I'm not talking about the roundabout. Many people think it will be a great amenity that facilitates the flow of traffic and cuts down on the amount of climate-warming smog. Many others are sure it's the end of safety and civility, at the expense of pedestrians and cyclists in particular. In all likelihood, it's just going to end up being another intersection that works better over time as drivers, riders and walkers all adjust.
What I'm talking about is the new road and the amenities that come with it: better pedestrian crossings, a center turn-lane so traffic doesn't back up, a new bike/ped trail along the west side of the highway from south of Main all the way to the bus stop at Village Lane, and perhaps a bit more commercial and educational energy on the south side of Main Street.
Last week, The Blend Coffee was renamed Boomerang Coffee Co. and pledged to commit its profits (all of them) as support for a nonprofit that helps alcoholics and drug addicts pay for treatment. That's an important mission, especially in a valley that sees an undue number of suicides, overdoses and DUIs. No doubt the legalization of marijuana is going to cause certain people real problems (Yes, Harriet, it is addictive), and some of them will need help digging out, too.
So we've got great coffee under new ownership across Garfield Avenue from Phillips 66. Across Euclid Avenue, we've got a fantastic new medical center going in. The local doctors and nurses at Roaring Fork Family Physicians certainly deserve new digs. Their current offices were built a long, long time ago (the 1960s, I believe), and they have simply run out of room.
A little farther down the road, just a bit south of the historic Thompson House, Ross Montessori is on the verge of building a new schoolhouse. It's been a long time coming for this very deserving bunch of students, parents and educators, who have been housed in some temporary structures in the industrial zone by Delany Nature Park. The nice thing is the school has found a way to stay in town, so children will be able to walk, pedal their bike or ride the bus to school.
That's a lot of new activity in this traditionally sleepy stretch of Highway 133. Bob Ferguson, the new owner of Boomerang Coffee Co., said he's glad to be part of this burgeoning business district south of Main. Maybe that's a good name for it: South of Main.
There's a lot of cool stuff happening with Highway 133 on the north side of Main Street, as well.
It's going to be a three-lane highway, with one in each direction and a center turn lane. The state department of transportation wanted to build four lanes, but there was a fair bit of pushback from some in the community. Trustee John Hoffman, vigilant in his representation of Carbondale whenever and wherever the Colorado Department of Transportation is involved, is the real leader on this front.
Thanks to Hoffman's persistent and quiet coaxing, CDOT is laying the foundation for a four-lane highway, but building a three-lane highway. That feels a lot more right-sized for the community, and perhaps buys time before the challenge of turning left at Delores Way, in or out, becomes completely impossible.
Hoffman also has been great at insisting on some kind of demarcation to help those on foot to get across the highway near the Red Rock Diner, at Delores Way, and out at Snowmass Drive, where many elementary and middle school students cross to get to class.
Another cool aspect of this highway project is the new bike-ped trail along the west side of Highway 133. It's been a long time coming, actually. The east-side trail is so compromised with driveways and streets that it's very difficult to ride down without feeling like you're going to be run over. It'll be nice to have a nearly uninterrupted stretch of trail from City Market to RFTA's park and ride.
By the time it's all over, we'll hopefully be wondering what all the fuss was about, as we cruise down the bike path, through the roundabout and out to the bus stop with greater ease than ever.
— Allyn Harvey's column is published on the third Thursday of the month. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.