Carbondale defends 133 `hourglass’ | PostIndependent.com
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Carbondale defends 133 `hourglass’

Crystal River Marketplace opponents claim the “Hourglass” plan for Highway 133 will bottleneck traffic when the shopping center is built, but Carbondale town officials defend the design.”Even with the hourglass, you’re going to be able to move a ton of traffic,” said Carbondale assistant town manager Bentley Henderson.Crystal River Marketplace opponents, led by the Town Mothers, have placed newspaper advertisements and submitted editorial page cartoons showing cars stacked one on top of each other as a result of the town’s construction plan for Highway 133.”The hourglass design is an absurdity,” said Town Mother Laurie Loeb. “Anybody who has done Highway 82 to Aspen knows what a nightmare we can expect.”Carbondale residents go to the polls to approve or deny the 252,000-square-foot Crystal River Marketplace on Tuesday, July 15. Early voting is allowed until 5 p.m. tonight at Town Hall.Marketplace developer Brian Huster is “on the hook,” Chain said, for $2.8 million in impact fees as part of the Marketplace approval.With that money expected, the town chose a $6.7 million, two-phase road plan. It would four-lane and upgrade most of a mile-long stretch of Highway 133 through town, from Main Street to Highway 82. But a 600-foot segment would remain as a two-lane highway from Delores Way to Village Road.Town planner Mark Chain said the initial construction plan breaks down as follows:-First, the stretch from Main Street north to Delores Way would be four-laned and upgraded at a cost of approximately $2.5 million.-Later, two lanes would be added to the Roaring Fork River bridge at the northern end of Highway 133, where it intersects with Highway 82, to handle increased traffic. The town estimates this phase’s cost at approximately $2.4 million. Highway 133 is already wide enough from Village Road to Cowen Drive to handle four lanes of traffic, Chain said. Other design, engineering, miscellaneous and contingency costs associated with phases one and two are estimated at approximately $1.8 million.The hourglass section of road would be widened from two lanes to four lanes as funds become available, which may take years.”From everything I’ve seen, it seems like the hourglass would work for a number of years,” Chain said.”The projection of potential backups may be a little excessive,” said Henderson. “I don’t think we’ll see enough traffic to create that. And by the time that traffic becomes a reality, hopefully, we’ll have filled in that middle section.”The Town Mothers paint a completely different picture. They base their opinion on the added 12,500 daily vehicle trips on Highway 133 the town expects the Marketplace to create.On its Web site and in its information center on Main Street, the Town Mothers infer the added traffic would stretch “bumper to bumper” from Carbondale to Aspen. “If 12,500 vehicles were lined up, this is the distance they would cover,” Loeb said.Town staffers disagree with the Mothers analysis, because 12,500 vehicle trips could translate into as few as 6,250 vehicles.”A trip is measured one way,” Chain said. “So, one vehicle in and the same vehicle out of the Marketplace, equals two trips.”Jim Nall, a Colorado Department of Transportation safety engineer, said his department must also be “confident” the Marketplace will not back up traffic before it issues a highway access permit.As for other Highway 133 considerations, Henderson said a town feasibility study shows Highway 133, from Highway 82 through town to Meadowood at the south end, should be four-laned to handle increased traffic that will be created, regardless of Crystal River Marketplace.Henderson said the highway also has 42 uncontrolled access points, which can create dangers. “Any time you have that many access points on a 35 to 40 mph highway, you can run into problems,” Henderson said.For now, Carbondale must pay for Highway 133 upgrades itself, because the road is not on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s improvement list.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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