Roundabout confirmed for Red Lady Ave.

Design and engineering the cheap part…

By Mark Reaman and Kendra Walker 

As part of the Crested Butte Community School expansion project, the town and school district have agreed that a roundabout will be constructed at Highway 135 and Red Lady Avenue. The town council on Monday, June 17 agreed to enter into an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with the Gunnison Watershed School District (GWSD) and pay half of the design and engineering costs for the roundabout which will amount to approximately $150,000 each. The GWSD board approved the IGA during their June 24 meeting. 

The school expansion project will allow the school facility to accommodate 1,104 students, up from today’s 710 students. The extra 400 students will increase peak hour traffic at the main entrance to the school more than 20% from the previously approved Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) access permit. As a result, the school and town must submit a new access permit for the intersection which mitigates the traffic impacts from the school.

According to a memo from town manager Dara MacDonald to the council, CDOT’s access permit will require the preferred solution to be designed and implemented before the school can receive a Certificate of Occupancy. Under the recently approved CB Transportation Mobility Plan, a roundabout was selected as the town’s preferred alternative to the intersection upgrade.

It was initially anticipated the design and engineering would cost a total of about $400,000, so the split is coming in about $100,000 under budget.

During the school board meeting, superintendent Leslie Nichols explained that the town and the district will jointly participate in the selection of the consultant. The town will issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) with the hopes of securing a design and engineering consultant in September, with the design and engineering process expected to take 12 months.  

The IGA does not outline a cost sharing agreement for the construction of the roundabout, which has a ballpark $5 million price tag. That agreement will be brought to the council and school board for consideration once a more detailed understanding of the true cost of construction is determined during the design and engineering phase of the project. The town has two pending funding efforts for the construction part of the project. They hope to receive funding from a Congressional Direct Spending request for $2,480,000 and a Safe Streets for All request of $2,224,800.

Nichols told the school board that the district is heavily engaged with the town in weekly conversations and conducting traffic studies to determine the district’s share of the construction costs based on the school’s use of that intersection. “We will share costs on construction of that intersection with the town based on traffic numbers, average uses per day, days we’re in session, etc.” she said, explaining that the district will pay less than 50%. “The town has a big stake in how the entrance to the town feels and it also heavily impacts how traffic flows through the rest of town. The town will carry the bulk of the costs of that improvement, with our partnership.”

Nichols told the board she is pleased with the partnership and developments thus far. “The town of Crested Butte is very engaged in recognizing the need to improve that intersection. We feel pretty good about our negotiations at this point.”

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