Rifle seeks roundabout funding aid | PostIndependent.com

Rifle seeks roundabout funding aid

Post Independent/Kelley Cox

RIFLE – City officials intend to approach the Garfield County Commissioners as at least one source of funding to help pay for two of the three scheduled roundabouts in the city of Rifle.The three roundabouts along the Interstate 70 interchange have been on the books for three years since voters approved the project as part of a $4.1 million street bond issue in September 2003. At the time, the Colorado Department of Transportation had given the city a cost estimate for the roundabouts of $1.5 million.But the estimate turned out to be way off.

“We were told originally that we could build all three roundabouts for around $1.5 million,” said Mayor Keith Lambert. “We bonded at that time based on (CDOT’s) numbers.”The numbers now show that it would cost $3.1 million just to build two of the three roundabouts located at the east and west ramps of I-70 and at Airport Road and Taugenbaugh Boulevard. The city had budgeted $2.7 million in 2006 to construct the two southerly interchanges, which included an additional $900,000 grant received from the Department of Local Affairs.”The last time we bid out the project, we were short about $800,000 to $900,000 to get it constructed,” said public works director Bill Sappington. “And we’re still short on the third roundabout.”In a council workshop meeting, it was suggested that the city look to the county for help in funding the projects since the interstate intersections and access to Highway 13 are used by others – not just the city.

“Rifle is (one of) the biggest towns in Garfield County right now and this is a major transportation need,” said deputy city attorney Jim Neu. Councilor Beth Bascom pointed out that the highway interchanges will be used by the county when the new correctional facility is built next spring, and is also used as an access to the hospital and by public safety officials.”These roundabouts will help others in the county besides Rifle,” she said.

Lambert said he is not willing to ask voters for additional money and if other funding can’t be found, the city may not build the roundabouts at all. The whole roundabout issue, he says, stemmed from the opening of Wal-Mart when a traffic study suggested that roundabouts be put in place to handle traffic through the I-70 interchange and south Rifle and CDOT agreed.”What the heck is the city of Rifle doing (building the roundabouts) when it’s not even our road?” Lambert said. “The city is not willing to go back (to the voters) and ask for additional funding for this project. What might ultimately happen is the city says to heck with it – we’re just not doing it. If we can’t find funding to finish this project, to heck with it.”In the meantime, the city is using three traffic lights along the interchange and Airport Road.”The traffic lights are cheaper, but the roundabouts are safer,” Sappington said. “The issue is complicated, big, not a lot of space and way more expensive than we thought. We’re hoping the county is receptive to this big need and will help out the community of Garfield County.”

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