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I attended the informational meeting regarding the future modernization of State Highway 13 from Rifle to Rio Blanco on July 16. Counting my wife and two staff members from CDOT, six of us were there.
Apparently, little notice was given out regarding the meeting. I got mine from an email, but how many people do? Not many, I guess.
Few people recognize the long-term importance of SH13.
This highway happens to be the only logical highway corridor connecting I-70 in Colorado with I-80 in Wyoming between Salt Lake City in Utah and Denver in Colorado.
We will eventually get a government administration that recognizes the importance of energy development, so, by the time this segment is built, people may be clamoring for a four-lane facility.
Perhaps the “sleeping giant – oil shale” will awaken before this segment of SH13 will be modernized, adding to the urgency of providing a vital transportation link.
Funding has been provided for design and some right-of-way acquisition.
Money for any actual construction is probably many years off. Estimated cost for the 12 miles being studied is at least $70 million.
I found the proposed design to be, at best, unimaginative, consisting of widening the present highway, adding shoulders, but not improving bad stretches of curvature sufficiently.
A highway of this importance (for safety) should incorporate a design speed of at least 70 mph.
Construction north of Rifle, if the CDOT plan is followed, will result in traffic stoppages backing traffic down Railroad Avenue into the heart of the city and as far as old SH6, west of Rifle.
An answer to this is moving the new alignment to the west side of Government Creek, from about Milepost 2 to Milepost 7.
Many opportunities for commenting on design, as it is developed, will be afforded in the future. Everyone with a stake in SH13 should stay tuned in.