CDOT agrees to undo Rifle roundabout change
RIFLE — After hearing concerns from local officials, the Colorado Department of Transportation has agreed to return traffic flow in Rifle’s southern roundabout to its previous pattern.
Based on the comments from city officials and after reviewing the site, the engineer on the project determined that the lane reassignments were not working the way they were intended, said Tracy Trulove, CDOT Region 3 communications manager. The engineer decided that the roundabout would be returned to its previous state this week, weather permitting.
Rifle Police Chief John Dyer expressed appreciation for CDOT’s willingness to involve local officials and reassess the situation.
“I think it’s important to take an individual look at it. (CDOT) did, and we appreciate that,” he said.
Assistant City Manger Kimberly Bullen made similar remarks shortly after hearing news of the decision late Monday — six days after CDOT finished restriping the roundabouts.
The decision to augment traffic flow through the southern roundabout from two lanes to one lane by forcing the outer lane to either exit the roundabout at Taughenbaugh Boulevard or merge into the inner lane quickly drew criticism from city officials. Dyer worried the changes would confuse drivers accustomed to continuing in the outer lane to access one of the many businesses, including Wal-Mart and Grand River Hospital, on Airport Road. However, the police department received only one phone call about a car accident in the roundabout, but the driver who called it in left the scene, according to Dyer.
Kirk Swallow, owner of Red River Quick Mart at the corner of Taughenbaugh Boulevard and Airport Road, reported seeing countless confused drivers try to continue through the roundabout in the outer lane. Michaela Mitchell, who works at the Kum & Go across the street, saw similar sights in the roundabout.
“It is confusing,” she said.
The changes were intended to improve safety in the roundabout by brining it into compliance with state standards, but motorists clearly had become accustomed to the two-lane traffic flow through the roundabout, Trulove said. If there is a single takeaway from the incident, it is the need to communicate with local officials when considering these types of projects, she added.
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Monday’s arrival of the Garfield Re-2 School District’s mask mandate was met by an organized protest and march in Rifle.