City of Rifle to open Railroad Avenue permanently once striping dries |

City of Rifle to open Railroad Avenue permanently once striping dries

Traffic flows on East Third Street in downtown Rifle in September.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Railroad Avenue in downtown Rifle should be opening permanently to traffic by the end of this week, a city official said.

Since March, a $3.8 million major construction project aimed at fixing infrastructure and beautifying the downtown area has closed down a section Railroad Avenue — the city’s main thoroughfare. The closure has congested traffic conditions on nearby roadways.

Meanwhile, sections of downtown’s Third Street were intermittently closed for construction activity, hindering downtown parking, foot traffic and revenue. So far, the city has allocated from the general fund $145,000 between June and August to businesses affected by construction.

Adding to the mix, the city has encountered a number of delays in relation to when Railroad Avenue should open. KSK Construction, the contractor hired to complete the construction project, originally told city officials that Railroad Avenue would be open by late August — the same time the Garfield County Fair parade was scheduled to roll through town.

Rifle Civil Engineer Craig Spaulding told city council Wednesday that the final portion of concrete was poured last week and crews are now finishing up striping activities.

“Friday they will stripe Railroad (Avenue) and once striping is done, they will open Railroad (Avenue),” he said.

As a contingency plan, Spaulding said cones will be placed on top of the striping if it doesn’t dry fast enough. Traffic, however, will still be open.

Some of the final touches of the project should unfold throughout the rest of November. Spaulding said sidewalks are slated for completion next week, while masonry activity will run toward the end of this month.

Throughout construction, barrels have sat on U.S. Highway 6 where motorists turn onto the bridge crossing the Colorado River to mitigate traffic issues.

“I have to believe it’s reduced the number of accidents at that intersection,” Council member Theresa Hamilton said.

Once Railroad Avenue opens to traffic, the barrels will be removed, Spaulding said. The council did discuss the possibility of adding a permanent barrier in the area.

“If there’s a permanent solution, that’s fine,” Council member Brian Condie said. “Just not barrels.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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