Infrastructure improvement projects start to ramp up in Rifle |

Infrastructure improvement projects start to ramp up in Rifle

Ryan Hoffman
Crews work on 14th Street near the new county administration building in Rifle. Improvements to the area include an entire rebuild of a portion of 14th Street, as well as Howard Avenue and 12th Street. The city hopes to have the project completed by the start of the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo in early August.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

As summer kicks further into gear, some Rifle residents will start to see short-term disruptions and closures on streets and sidewalks as crews work to complete infrastructure improvements around the city.

The improvements come in a year when the city has identified and prioritized infrastructure projects, which were outlined in March.

The most recent segment of the Rifle Creek Trail opened several weeks ago. Some minor fence work remains, but the trail is open, said Rick Barth, city engineer.

The finished segment, which stretches from the City Market parking lot to 11th Street, leaves just one final segment from 11th Street to Ninth Street. For now, pedestrians can access Railroad Avenue from 11th Street.

Construction also is underway on improvements to 12th Street, Howard Avenue and a portion of 14th Street adjacent to the new Garfield County administration building. The streets currently are closed for construction, and the intent is to have the upgrades completed by the Garfield County Fair and Rodeo at the start of August, Barth said.

The city and county entered into an agreement to share in the cost of the improvements, which include sidewalks, curb and gutter work, and a complete rebuild of the streets, the last of which was not in the original plans.

The city originally intended to repave one lane of the streets until Garfield County agreed to contribute $60,000 to help rebuild the entire stretch of street. The city also received a Department of Local Affairs grant for $65,000.

But in May the city learned the lowest bid for the project had come in at $327,531 — above the originally expected total cost of $275,000.

“This road corridor is an old county roadway that was merely paved over on dirt, is flat with poor drainage, and is heavily used by both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, especially the high school,” Barth wrote in a May memo. “ … Because of its poor state and level of use, staff believes it makes the most since to do a comprehensive street rebuild. We do believe we can refine the scope and reduce the project cost slightly, but additional funding will be required regardless.”

In his memo, Barth suggested reducing the scope of the city’s Railroad Avenue stoplight project, also scheduled for 2016, by removing a planned light at Ninth Street and Railroad Avenue, which should reduce the project by $75,000 or more. Should those savings come in under the projected amount, the remainder would need to be included as part of a supplemental budget.

The strategic plan presented to and endorsed by City Council in March suggested additional and un-budgeted spending of nearly $1.4 million, which would come from the city’s street improvement fund balance.

Less than a month after receiving the bids for the improvements near the county building, the city received some better news when a bid for upcoming improvements in east Rifle near Highland Elementary School came in at $593,671 — well below the original $800,000 estimate.

That project, which was not in the 2016 adopted budget, includes a complete rebuild of Eighth Street from Birch Avenue to Dogwood Drive, as well as building new sidewalks along Eighth Street, and repaving the south side of Fir Avenue from east Seventh Street to Dogwood Drive.

It also includes improvements to the intersections of Dogwood and Birch and the intersection of Dogwood and Edelweiss.

Work in this area is expected to start later this month. The portions of Fir and Dogwood will be targeted in order to complete those improvement prior to the start of school in August, Barth said. In total, the improvements in the area are expected to take approximately eight weeks.

As far as other street improvement in the near future, Barth said he is hoping the city can complete some more crack seal along Highway 6, near the Brenden Rifle 7 movie theater, and east toward the Highway 13 bridge over the Colorado River.

And, speaking of the river, the city earlier this month put its boat ramp project out to bid. Pending bid results, the city plans to initiate that project in the fall, Barth said.

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