Designer approved for pedestrian, traffic safety improvements at U.S Highway 6 in Rifle |

Designer approved for pedestrian, traffic safety improvements at U.S Highway 6 in Rifle

The Rifle park and ride located at Railroad Avenue and Centennial Parkway in 2019.
Chelsea Self / Citizen Telegram

Rifle City Council approved hiring an engineering firm to design plans to enhance pedestrian and traffic safety at two major intersections along U.S. Highway 6.

KLJ Engineering LLC — which is headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, but has an office in Grand Junction — was approved unanimously on Wednesday to provide designs for about $516,000.

The designs cover potentially adding a roundabout at the intersection of Whiteriver Avenue and Highway 6 as well as improvements to Railroad Avenue and Highway 6.

Rifle City Engineer Craig Spaulding said there were at least 43 firms that showed interest in the project.

“The majority of firms that we spoke to didn’t have the ability to commit this year to this project,” he said. “I think KLJ has the resources to do that.”

KLJ Senior Engineer Mark Kenny said their services for the project also include a traffic study. The traffic team will model what to do best for the intersection of U.S Highway 6 and Whiteriver Avenue.

“We think a roundabout is going to be an appropriate and most cost-effective solution, but it may not be,” he told City Council. “There may be some traffic timing.”

The entire project, anticipated to cost $5 million to $6 million, has already been awarded a $1.8 million Colorado Department of Transportation grant while the city intends to also appropriate $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds. The remaining costs will be covered by $1 million from the general fund and $1.2 million from the street improvement fund, city documents show.

These two intersections are always a top concern in Rifle, a town in which 65% of its 9,771 residents commute to other places for work. As well, 44% of jobs in Rifle are filled by in-commuters, city documents state.

Meanwhile, a 2009 CDOT study conducted on these roadways shows significant amounts of average traffic. Railroad Avenue just north of U.S. Highway 6 saw about 12,600 vehicles per day, while another 7,300 vehicles traveled per day on Highway 6 east of Whiteriver Avenue.

The same study showed the traffic rate in Rifle would grow by 3.3% annually, city documents show.

Rifle City Council member Brian Condie favored designs adding a roundabout.

“This is why I like this concept,” he said. “People are slowing down at the roundabouts.”

KLJ’s proposal for designs and traffic studies include a $3.5 million project to renovate the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority park and ride bus station near Highway 6 and Railroad Avenue, which the city said are interrelated projects.

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