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Downtown Rifle revitalization project affecting business, traffic

Construction activity on Railroad Avenue earlier this month.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Downtown Rifle business owner Nick Beightel said business has decreased 75% since construction activity picked up in the area earlier this year.

In fact, when asked if COVID-19 or construction has been more of a detriment to foot traffic, Beightel, who owns One Jewelers, said construction is worse “by far.”

“The fact a lot of my customers are elderly people, they don’t want to walk a block or two to shop,” he said on Tuesday. “They want the convenience to pull up and leave. Where are they going to park? It’s hard for them.”



The construction is a part of a massive project to fix and beautify downtown infrastructure called the Rifle Revitalization Project.

Beightel said since parking is currently unavailable on East Third Street — right in front of his store — patrons are forced to park elsewhere.



“You can, I guess, try and park on Second or Third (streets) going up past West Avenue,” he said. “Or, you can try and park on East Avenue and try and walk down… but that’s difficult.”

Beightel said, however, he understands the need for the project.

“Business is down for all of us on this street,” he said. “We’re hoping it gets done sooner than later. But, unfortunately, when it comes to infrastructure, I get it… It’ll look nice, but there’s a lot there. it really is a lot of detailed work that people don’t get.”

So far, with the downtown project closing off parts of Railroad Avenue and work on the Centennial Parkway Bridge closing down a section of U.S. Highway 6, traffic is being redirected to Whiteriver and West avenues.

During rush hours, the Rifle Police Department has had to help come in and direct traffic on Whiteriver Avenue.

Brent Cose, a Rifle resident and mechanic, is also frustrated with the uptick in traffic.

“We’re getting inundated with more traffic,” he said. It’s obscene to me. I just think it should be easier to flow through traffic and not all screwed up like this.”

Cose, however, is pleased with the RPD’s efforts in helping direct traffic.

“I’m glad to see that they did it,” he said.

CONSTANT UPDATES, BUT A LONG WAY FROM THE END

Every other week now, the city and representatives with KSK Construction, which was contracted by the city for $3.8 million to complete the revitalization project, provide updates during city council meetings.

Last week they reported that construction operations in relation to the Downtown Revitalization Project continue to unfold on West Third Street and are now also occurring on East Third Street, a spokesperson said.

“The crews have completed a lot of the north and south sidewalks and demolition and pours over on W. Third,” KSK spokesperson Tracy Trulove told Rifle City Council on April 21.

KSK Construction is currently contracted by the city to complete the work.

So far, crews have wrapped up waterline installation, curb and gutter pours and storm sewer installation on W. Third Street. Meanwhile, sidewalks and parking on West Third Street are being completed.

A road closed sign stands on Railroad Avenue earlier this month.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

KSK also reported that the waterline on Railroad Avenue is to receive testing and after passing the services will be tied into the new line, which will require intermittent shutoffs.

Since there will be continued intermittent work on West Third Street, KSK asks residents to pay close attention to traffic and signage at this location. In addition, flaggers are positioned daily to help children walking from Rifle Middle School to cross on West Avenue.

“We did talk to city manager Scott (Hahn) and Chief (Tommy) Klein this week about some traffic issues that were happening on West,” Trulove said last week. “So, we did get our traffic control supervisor up here to work with the flaggers.”

Trulove also said that crews were able to widen the area on West Avenue to put in a turn and a northbound through lane to help alleviate traffic buildup.

Meanwhile, the city has adjusted signal timing at Centennial Parkway to assist with traffic flow.

E. Dene Moore Project: August 2021

Downtown Revitalization Project: June 2021

Centennial Bridge Project: April 2021

Work on East Third Street was slated for Monday. Construction on East Third Street, however, will only occur once West Third Street is nearly completed.

According to the most recent update, however, work this week continues to focus on the reconstruction of West Third Street. Grading will continue in preparation to begin pouring concrete for parking spaces on West Third Street. The rest of the street will be roadbase until the concrete is poured.

City Engineer Craig Spaulding said Xcel Energy is also installing a gas line down West Avenue. They’re doing it at night so operations don’t interfere with the revitalization project, Spaulding said.

The entire project is expected to be fully completed sometime in June.

“So, (Railroad Avenue) is probably pretty much going to be shut down in one place or another until July,” council member Clint Hostettler said.

OTHER UPDATES

KSK Construction is contracted by the Colorado Department of Transportation to do work on various sidewalks to install wheelchair-accessible ramps. KSK owner Kirk Knowles said work will start at the intersection of 20th Street and Railroad Avenue. Work will continue to the intersection of 26th Street and Railroad Avenue. Work started Monday and is scheduled to end in early May.

“It is going to be impactful as far as the traffic’s concerned,” Knowles said of the ramp work.

In addition, KSK said work on the Centennial Parkway Bridge is slated to end in early May. They are finishing up concrete pour and overlay work, Knowles said.

“We’re hoping it will relieve some of the traffic issues,” Knowles said of when Centennial Parkway reopens.

To receive up-to-date traffic updates, please sign up for notifications at the city website: https://www.rifleco.org/NotifyMe

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com


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