Carbondale lays out vision for Highway 133 | PostIndependent.com
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Carbondale lays out vision for Highway 133

Carbondale’s collective vision for Highway 133 is coming into focus, and individual views include:-A marmot crossing sign at the “marmot refuge” alongside the Holy Cross Energy substation at the north end of the highway.-If the town wants a “rural” looking highway, it shouldn’t resemble Highway 82 in the Holland Hills area east of Basalt.-A three-lane rather than a four-lane bridge over the Roaring Fork River could work, with a pedestrian bridge alongside.”It’s fairly pragmatic,” said John Hoffmann, who pitched his bridge idea at a Highway 133 public input session held Wednesday evening.OTAK Rock Creek Studio hosted several input sessions this week, and will present its final Highway 133 design during an open house from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at La Fontana Plaza.”You can tell us what you like and don’t like,” said OTAK landscape architect John McCarty.Highway 133 slices through Carbondale, and traffic counts have increased dramatically in the past 10 years. But the roadway isn’t on any long term Colorado Department of Transportation improvement list. Last year, Carbondale decided to design Highway 133 improvements itself, and start building them as funds permit.Fixed and flexible elementsMcCarty told the audience OTAK is operating under both fixed and flexible design elements that must be incorporated.The fixed elements include:-Four lanes from one end to the other through town.-No additional rights of way purchases.-Curb and gutter drainage along the entire stretch.The “flexible” elements include:-Bicycle path width and alignment.-Roadway and median landscaping treatments.-Crosswalk treatments.-Transit stops.-Lighting fixtures.McCarty said the medians could be hard surface or soft surface, raised or street level, formal or informal, and landscaped with native vegetation. Maintenance for the medians, and other landscaping, will be up to the town rather than CDOT.Connecting CarbondaleMcCarty referred to a 1997 Highway 133 Task Force mission statement that says the road should be “a street that connects the community, rather than divides it.”Much of the discussion so far calls for Highway 133 to connect motorists with the historic downtown through signs, banners and other design elements such as colored crosswalks. “This is an opportunity for the community to develop its character,” McCarty said.Carbondale anchors the north end of the West Elk Loop, a scenic corridor along Highway 133 and other roads through the West Elk Mountains connecting Redstone, Paonia, Gunnison and Crested Butte. OTAK landscape architect Jon Fredericks suggested the highway design could visually connect Carbondale with the rest of the West Elk Loop.”Other communities could do it at the other end,” McCarty said. “It’s an opportunity to knit different communities together.”The Highway 133 input sessions have been held at a La Fontana storefront next to Dos Gringos restaurant, and the walls are filled with highway photographs from other towns, aerial photographs of Highway 133, drawings and easel pages full of public comments.Judging from comments from OTAK staff and the public, the two biggest challenges are directing travelers into downtown from the highway’s intersection with Main Street, and designing the bridge at the intersection with Highway 82.”Going across the bridge should bring people into the community,” McCarty said. And at Main Street, “we have to make a big statement.”Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534lburton@postindependent.com


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