Public meeting on plans coming up
Those looking to paddle “Lake Alpineer” would be wise to get their boating in this spring. With major planned roadwork going ahead at the Four-way Stop starting in late April or early May, the days are numbered for the enormous puddle in front of the Alpineer sporting goods store. The entire intersection will receive a face-lift.
Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie says the roadwork will cause Crested Butte’s major intersection to be closed from the end of April to mid-June and some nearby businesses will likely be shut as well.
There will be a public meeting on Wednesday, April 2 at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall to view the plans and answer any questions that the community may have regarding the project. The town invites all interested citizens and business owners to attend.
The planned work is the continuation of the project that started last summer and saw the installation of new streetlights, sidewalks and crosswalks, along Sixth Street in Crested Butte. This spring’s plans include shifting the roadway closer to the visitor’s center, moving the downhill bus drop-off to the west side of the intersection, adding two turn lanes and numerous sidewalk and lighting upgrades.
The planned intersection upgrade has been in the works for several years.
The Sixth Street Corridor Improvement Plan was created amid a flurry of transportation planning in the late 1990s after a Gunnison County traffic study suggested more than 18,000 vehicles would use the Four-way Stop intersection per day by 2020. To mitigate the increased traffic, the study suggested installing a traffic light and turn lanes.
However, Crested Butte residents felt that a doubling of traffic volume was unacceptable and sought alternatives to intersections and a four-lane road.
In the fall of 1997, a 16-member Crested Butte transportation focus group formed and, along with three other groups, produced the Upper Gunnison River Valley Transportation Plan and the Crested Butte Transportation Plan. Crested Butte’s plan outlined the intention to limit the number of cars through town to 10,000 per day with the use of variety of transportation alternatives, such as park-and-ride lots.
In the spring of 2000, the Sixth Street Corridor Improvement Plan was adopted by the town and included recommendations for improved bus stops, updated sidewalks and crosswalks, and safety upgrades to bicycle crossings and school access along the corridor. At the focus group’s suggestion, the intersection of Elk Avenue and Sixth Street was planned to accommodate 10,000 vehicles per day, with stop signs and two turn lanes.
In recent years, approximately 7,000 vehicles use the Four-way Stop every day during summer high season, with fewer vehicles in winter.
From 2000 to 2004 little progress was made on the implementation of the Sixth Street Corridor Improvement Plan, as the town and the state both suffered from economic downturns. In addition, traffic counts in Crested Butte leveled out instead of increasing, as previous studies had suggested.
The town’s financial situation improved in March 2004 when the town was granted $322,000 in federal Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) funds to improve the Sixth Street corridor. The federal funds will make up part of an estimated $2 million needed to complete the currently planned project. Most, if not all, of those funds will come from the town.
Small pieces of the project were performed in 2006, but the majority of construction was projected to go ahead in 2007. Due to costs, the Four-way Stop renovation was pushed back until 2008. This year’s bids for the Four-way Stop renovation came in on budget and the contract was awarded to Lacy Construction.
Gillie says the Town realizes that it’s inconvenient for the major intersection to be shut down. To alleviate the situation, construction is planned for the off-season and should be 80 percent completed by mid-June. “I’m impressing on them to get the intersection open by that time,” he says.
Traffic will be pushed onto Seventh and Fifth Streets during the intersection closure.