Rifle city council gets sticker shock
RIFLE – A state estimate for the city’s proposed roundabouts came in about $2 million higher than expected, leaving city council members searching for answers.The Colorado Department of Transportation nearly doubled the estimated cost of three roundabouts off Interstate 70 slated for construction in Rifle this summer.In a workshop with council members this week, city public works director Bill Sappington said the cost estimate for the project is now $3.9 million, up from $2.1 million.Rifle voters passed a bond in 2003 for the roundabouts, a bond the city based on CDOT’s original estimate of $2.1 million.The roundabouts will be at the east and west ramps of I-70 and at the intersection of Airport Road and Taughenbaugh Boulevard south of Rifle.Mayor Keith Lambert said the city has only so much money available for the project.”There’s no more money,” he said. “We bonded for the monies they estimated for us, and now they come in the middle of the game and change the rules.”Lambert questioned why CDOT wasn’t kicking in funds for the roundabouts – essentially a state project – it directed the city to do.”The original plan was to put in traffic signals to deal with traffic issues, and we’re fine with that,” Lambert said. “Then CDOT wanted to expand the scope of the project. We agreed that the roundabouts were the best possible alternative and we were working with CDOT to make this happen. They gave us the estimate and that’s what we bonded for. But at this point, we don’t have the money. We didn’t bond for it.”While the city has nearly completed design plans for the roundabouts, council members suggested that the project not go any further or spend any more money on it until a meeting can be held with CDOT officials.Jim Nall, the Western Slope regional director for CDOT, said the agency is more than willing to work with Rifle.”This is something we have to work through,” Nall said. “The roundabouts were something that was proposed by the city of Rifle as an access point to accommodate the growth on Airport Road.”Sappington said the city is currently in the process of applying for a $1 million Department of Local Affairs grant to help pay for the project, which was originally estimated at $700,000 per roundabout.Construction of the roundabouts was slated to begin in July 2005. However, Sappington pointed out that a delay might not be a bad thing with the city’s upcoming centennial celebration and numerous events this summer.Council and staff informally agreed that a meeting with CDOT officials would be the next logical step.Nall said he thought that was a good idea.”We will have continued negotiations with the city of Rifle and there are things we can look at,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone is comfortable. We’re confident we can work together to come to a solution.”
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