CDOT cuts ribbon on Highway 133
A few final touches remain on the $9.3 million improvement project on Highway 133 in Carbondale and landscaping won’t take place until spring, but traffic was flowing through the new roundabout as representatives from various organizations gathered Friday afternoon for the official ribbon cutting.
Other changes include additional sidewalks, trails and crosswalks, a turning lane along the northern part of the corridor, and a still-in-progress traffic signal at the intersection with Snowmass Avenue.
“It started as a crucial safety improvement and it became so much more than that,” Mayor Stacey Bernot told the assembly. “You really heeded our concerns and adapted it to our community.”
Foremost among residents’ concerns was pedestrian accessibility.
With that in mind, the Colorado Department of Transportation installed flashers at the roundabout to help draw attention to those in the crosswalk. Project Engineer Graham Riddile emphasized that pedestrians don’t have the right of way until they’re actually crossing, and urged caution by all parties. He also highlighted the new bike and pedestrian trail on the west side of the highway and enhanced pedestrian routes throughout the corridor.
“Carbondale has great reputation as being a pedestrian and bike haven,” he said. “It’s fun to do a project like this because you can add to that.”
He acknowledged that were a few design elements that people weren’t as happy about. Raised medians near the roundabout, in particular, have altered traffic flow into nearby shopping centers. They’re there for safety with an eye on the future, he said.
“You have to design for all the growth that might happen in the next 20 or 30 years,” he explained.
Most business owners along the highway just seemed glad to have it over with.
“I’m happy that it’s finally done, because it did affect sales,” said Kiko Peña, owner of Sopris Liquor and Wine.
“It wasn’t easy for us throughout the summer,” agreed Sandy Graetz, co-owner of It’s My Party! “Hopefully things will pick up now that people can get to us.”
“I think it’s great for Carbondale and it’s going to make a big difference, but it was quite the process,” added Jenny Hamilton, owner of Ragged Mountain Sports.
The impacts were less severe on the north end of town.
“They did a phenomenal job,” said Bob Olenick, owner of the Red Rock Diner. “Once it’s all landscaped, it should be pretty nice.”
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Current owners, struggling with declining breakfast customers and staffing, hope to sell the iconic restaurant near the entrance to Carbondale.