Road Realignment Project Begins With Public Outreach, Environmental Study
Recognizing that congestion for all modes of travel is a continuing issue within downtown Estes Park, the Town initiated an outreach process in Spring of 2013 to understand the community’s priorities for improving transportation, as well as its interest in seeing the Town pursue a potential major funding opportunity. The public weighed in on several transportation-related project options, one of which was the conversion of traffic through the core downtown area from two-way to one-way traffic, creating a loop to increase capacity by approximately 40 percent. This option was the majority of the participating public’s preference to increase traffic flow, and so the Town Board voted to proceed with a competitive grant application to build the one-way couplet. The application was successful, and the Town was awarded $13 million from the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), administered through the Federal Highway Administration-Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD), as well as $4.2 million through the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships (RAMP) program.
Town Administrator Frank Lancaster noted, “The community continues to support the Town’s efforts to improve transportation and transit in Estes Park.” He continued, “We have an extraordinary opportunity to make positive changes with this project, and the concerns and questions of the public will play a major role as we move forward.” The goal of the road realignment project is to increase mobility and access to downtown businesses, reduce traffic congestion frustrations and improve air quality and the overall safety of our residents and guests. The project was also recommended by several transportation studies to improve traffic flow and access to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Beginning in August of 2014, the Town and its partners at CFLHD and CDOT will begin the project development process including environmental analysis, preliminary engineering and public outreach. Outreach will include one-on-one meetings with property owners along the right-of-way of the proposed concept, as well as community open houses and the formation of stakeholder groups to work with the technical team throughout the project. Input from special interest groups including businesses and multi-modal transportation advocates will be crucial. The first set of property owner meetings and community open houses is anticipated to take place in late summer. To further facilitate public discussions, the project partners will create a project website with a comment form and a dedicated email address. The community can expect regular updates throughout the project.
Through the Fall and Winter of 2014, project alternatives will be developed with public input. These alternatives will undergo an environmental assessment, with a draft report expected to be available in the Spring of 2015. From approximately Summer of 2015 through Summer of 2016, a final design would be developed and any necessary negotiations with property owners for project right-of-way acquisition would occur. Tentatively, a construction schedule could be outlined after the successful completion of these steps.
The project approved by the FLAP process proposes to convert Elkhorn Avenue from East Riverside Drive to Moraine Avenue, and Moraine Avenue south of Elkhorn Avenue to West Riverside Drive, into one-way thoroughfares for westbound traffic. Moraine Avenue would then revert to two-way traffic going west from the intersection. In addition, a new one-way road for eastbound traffic would be constructed along a route roughly similar to West Riverside Drive as it travels from Moraine Avenue to East Riverside Drive near Ivy Street, continuing to Elkhorn Avenue. At Elkhorn Avenue, eastbound traffic would become two-way again.
For more information, please contact the Town of Estes Park Public Information Office at 970-577-3701. To receive Town news and/or meeting agendas via email at www.estes.org. More Town news is available at www.facebook.com/townofestesparkco and www.twitter.com/townofestespark.