Uncertainty hangs over Cattle Creek safety work | PostIndependent.com

Uncertainty hangs over Cattle Creek safety work

Heavy truck traffic crosses on and off of Highway 82 at the Cattle Creek intersection between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale on a regular basis. Garfield County is hoping to improve the situation by lengthening acceleration and deceleration lanes at the turnoff, but future development in the area could impact those improvements.
John Stroud | Post Independent

Garfield County will proceed with safety upgrades at the busy Cattle Creek intersection on state Highway 82, even though a nearby developer’s plans could mean the county’s work will be ripped up in a couple of years.

The county has been working with HDR Engineering out of Denver to design longer highway acceleration and deceleration lanes at the intersection where County Roads 113 and 110 and a busy commercial frontage road come together.

“I remain really concerned about this intersection,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said earlier this week when county commissioners agreed to continue with the estimated $1 million worth of safety work next year, despite a potential conflict with developers of the River Edge subdivision and other property located across Highway 82.

“This could be one of the worst intersections not just in Garfield County, but in the entire Western Slope,” Jankovsky said.

HDR is also under contract with Carbondale Investments, developer of the already-approved 360-plus-home River Edge project, and the associated Garfield County Commercial Investments, which wants to rezone an adjacent 43-acre parcel fronting Highway 82 for large-scale commercial development.

Both projects are scheduled before the county Planning Commission on Jan. 13, including the rezoning proposal that would allow for more than 900,000 square feet of commercial development.

Also to be considered is a request to move the main River Edge entrance away from the Cattle Creek intersection, as was approved four years ago, about a half mile to the north in conjunction with the commercial proposal.

Of concern to the county is the possibility that highway access improvements associated with the development could overlap with the Cattle Creek work. The county also would like to persuade the Colorado Department of Transportation to someday install a traffic signal at the intersection.

Commissioners agreed to continue with HDR despite the potential conflict of them also working with the developer. A company representative assured the county in a letter that public money would not be used to assist the private developer.

The dual arrangement could have its benefits as the county and developer work with CDOT for the access permitting that will be required, Commission Chairman John Martin said.

“I’m still willing to get this intersection done, and I don’t think we should delay it,” Martin said at the Dec. 7 board of commissioners meeting.

Moving the access point for the River Edge development not only hinges on gaining highway access, but also on getting permission from the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for a grade-separated crossing of the Rio Grande Trail, Martin noted.

The former railroad corridor separates the River Edge property and the land that is proposed to be rezoned.

“No doubt [Cattle Creek] is a dangerous intersection,” Martin said. “We see it every day, all the time, and we have to do something about it.”

Jay Abrahamovich, who owns two businesses located at the busy intersection, Olde Town Moving and Premier Party Rentals, couldn’t agree more.

“A lot of people want to know what’s going on there,” Abrahamovich, who was on hand for the commissioners’ discussion, said.

“When my staff found out I was coming over here, they told me to tell you they’ve scared to death every day,” he said of the regular moving and delivery truck traffic that turns on and off the highway at that intersection.

The county has offered to pay for a traffic light at the intersection, but CDOT has said traffic counts and accidents are not sufficient to justify a light.

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