Tree lighting, traffic control prompts Rifle City Council to approve additional funds for downtown rehabilitation

Construction crews continue work on Third Street in downtown Rifle in 2021.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

A desire for curbside trees to light up future holidays prompted Rifle City Council to unanimously approve a change order to its downtown rehabilitation project.

“If there’s a holiday, they can change colors,” City Civil Engineer Craig Spaulding said. “Same thing for Valentine’s Day and same for St. Patty’s Day.”

The original rehabilitation project was contracted through KSK Construction at $3.8 million. However, a change order made in fall 2021 increased project cost.

The change order increases the overall cost of the project by $83,928. The project, which, prior to Wednesday’s unanimous vote, has so far cost the city nearly $4.39 million, ran throughout 2021. Its aim was to improve downtown infrastructure and curb appeal.

But lighting trees near the downtown area isn’t the most expensive item in the change order.

KSK Construction owner Kirk Knowles told the city in July 2021 the road would be open specifically in time for the fair parade. Based on that promise, the city is now spending an additional $11,587 to remove the temporary road base used to open Railroad Avenue in time for the fair.

“That was due to the need for Garfield County Fair, when we allowed traffic and stopped the (project) progress to allow the fair to proceed,” Spaulding said.

Another $18,411 was also approved for road bonding after the removal of the road base.

In addition to removing the temporary road base from Railroad Avenue, it meant KSK crew members had to conduct additional traffic control management duties.

This increased traffic control days from an anticipated 46 to 98, tacking on an extra $29,930 to the project.

Spaulding told City Council that KSK provided logs of all traffic control days, which are also documented on the city’s website.

Throughout most of 2021, project completion dates were pushed, traffic issues increased and downtown businesses received some financial assistance from the city of Rifle to make up for decreased foot traffic and lost revenue.

“I really appreciate the detailed report, even though it’s long or whatever,” council member Brian Condie said. “It shows that they have nothing to hide, and it’s just not a general number that they came up with.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

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