Rachel Hultin

Colorado Pedals Project Year 1: CDOT Region 3

In Sept 2015, Governor Hickenlooper announced the Colorado Pedals Project. The goal? To make Colorado the #1 Bike State by 2020. This is part 3 of a 6-part series on projects we’re tracking and supporting that further the Pedals Project.

It’s bold. It’s ambitious. It is absolutely achievable but not without the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) locking its proverbial jaws around every opportunity to include and expand investments in active transportation. With a $1.3 billion annual budget, CDOT has the single biggest impact on creating safe options for people to ride a bike. They accomplish this by incorporating bike facilities into resurfacing projects or by adding stand-alone, multi-use trails as part of a major corridor reconstruction or by asking communities where they have the greatest need to improve safe crossings and access for their most vulnerable road users.

CDOT is a massive and complicated agency with complex funding and even more complex restrictions attached to those funds. Even so, CDOT is doing good work related to bicycling across the state. We have been working closely with both headquarters and all five CDOT regions to represent your interests and further advance the goals of the Colorado Pedals Project. As we enter the second year of the Pedals Project, we thought it would be a good time to recognize current successes and look to even bigger ones on the horizon.

This is the third of six blog posts highlighting each CDOT region and headquarters to inform folks about exciting projects happening in their hometowns and backyards. You can read the Region 5 blog post here and the Region 4 blog post here.

Quick facts about CDOT Region 3

  • It is roughly the Northwest quadrant of the state and includes Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Vail, Steamboat, Buena Vista and Gunnison.
  • Includes 14.5 of Colorado’s 64 counties. (Montrose County is split between Regions 3 and 5) and 8% of the state’s population.
  • Has 4,932 state highway lanes miles, or about 14% of the total state highway lane miles in Colorado.
  • Is home to all or part of eight Colorado the Beautiful’s “16 in 16” priority trails including: Colorado Riverfront Trail, Crested Butte Carbondale Trail, Eagle Valley Trail, Freemont Pass Trail, Lower Valley Trail, Palisade Plunge, Alpine Loop and Arkansas River Stage & Rail Trail.
  • Region 4 headquarters is located in Grand Junction. Dave Eller is the Regional Transportation Director. Steve Olsen, Babaft Moore and Mark Rogers work together as the designated Region 3 Bike/Ped Specialist Team.
  • In 2016, Region 3 approved the design of Colorado’s first fully protected bicycle intersection on SH 58 [Tomichi Avenue] in Gunnison.

Region 3 Transportation Director, Dave Eller, said of his region strengths, challenges and vision for active transportation:

“As a result of having the largest geographical area and home to so many recreational opportunities, Region 3 has unique challenges when prioritizing safe and efficient bicycle and pedestrian facilities.  We have our typical populated locations such as Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction that require safe travel through the more congested highways.  We have our commuter corridors that provide multi-model connections to nearby communities such as Frisco to Breckenridge, Gypsum to Vail, and Fruita to Grand Junction.  Then we have our rural and scenic roadways such as Rabbit Ears Pass, Vail Pass, Gunnison to Crested Butte, and the Grand Mesa to name a few.

“Our goal is to improve safe bicycle and pedestrian travel all of these locations, and we recognize the bicycle community is a key stakeholder in our transportation system.  We are not only committed working with our local agencies to complete bike/ped trails that connect communities, but also to to look for the little things that make cycling safer on our rural roads and keep our part of the state as a cycling destination for generations to come.”

Notable Region 3 projects with bike/ped improvements in the past 12 months

#1: SH 9  Iron Springs Alignment

Photo courtesy of CDOT

A 1.3-mile stretch of SH 9, just south of Frisco, is being realigned, rather than widened. A component of this project is the realignment of a portion of the existing Blue River Bikeway. A portion of the bikeway will be realigned creating a much gentler grade which will result to a safer travel for the path users. The bike-ped-trail elements of the project include: 12’ paved multi-use path, replacement parking and 10’ paved connection to existing hiking trail, construction of 12’ connection to Swan Mountain Road (Lake Loop), and addition of 2 30’ x 10’ arch underpasses for the 12’ paved multi-use path in order to eliminate crossing at grade on SH 9. Completion date is expected in December of 2017. Visit SH 9 Iron Springs Project Page for updates.

#2: Mount Crested Butte Gothic Trail Project Phase II [Montrose County]

Photo courtesy of CDOT

This phase completes the northern connection of a concrete multi-use from Crested Butte to Mount Crested Butte along County Road 135.  Phase II includes: ADA improvements, driveway accesses, street pedestrian crossings, and rock retaining walls.  The concrete trail has been completed and while the project is on winter shutdown, it is expected to resume sometime in May to complete the landscaping which will include 300 trees and some final touches to this scenic trail.

#3: Fruita Little Salt Wash Trail

Photo courtesy of CDOT

This trail is part of the Fruita Riverfront Trail System connecting Grand Junction to Loma.  Though relatively short in length this trail was a critical connection between south and north Fruita. Trail users now have full use through the Colorado State Park in Fruita on the south end.  The trail includes two pedestrian bridges over Little Salt Wash and runs under five bridges including Interstate 70, US Hwy 6 and the Union Pacific Railroad.  On the north side of I-70, the trail is now the eastern origin of the Kokopelli Trail. While this project is complete, a 4.5 mile future trail connection is under design for late 2017 construction with goal of bicyclists riding from Palisade Colorado to the Kokopelli Trail through the Grand Valley.

#4: Eagle Valley Trail [Beaver Creek to Stonebridge Dr]

Photo courtesy of CDOT

Since 1996, Eagle County and its partners have worked to build a trail system connecting the entire Eagle River Valley to Glenwood Canyon, Summit County, and the Rio Grande Trail.  Ultimately, the planned 63 mile Eagle Valley Trail will contribute to nearly 193 miles of continuous paved trail for walkers, bicyclists, and other recreational users.  Completed in 2016, this project is last phase of the Eagle Valley Trail through Avon and greatly improves safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by providing a route separated from Highway 6 and directly connected to employee housing.

#5: US 40 Rabbit Ears Pass Shoulders

Photo courtesy of CDOT

A 10.5 mile mill and fill resurfacing project on US 40 included rumble strips installed on shoulders which inadvertently restricted bicycle riders to travel on shoulders in a safe manner in areas where shoulder widths are less than 6 feet. Local bike advocates notified Rep. Diane Mitch-Busch and CDOT of the issue. In response, the project team milled the rumble strips out in those locations and resulting in improved safety for bicycles and drivers. CDOT is also reviewing and revising the engineering specs to prevent future improper installation of rumble strips. Positive feedback from the biking community has been relayed to CDOT for the removal of rumble strips.

#6: Ridgeview Trail

Photo courtesy of CDOT

In 2016, Craig Parks and Recreation Department completed The Ridgeview Trail Project thanks to a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The recently completed project is located just north of Craig and is easily accessible by the students that attend Colorado Northwest Community College. In addition, the project also provides a much safer alternate route to town for pedestrians and bicyclists that live in the Ridgeview Subdivision.

2016 Region 3 funding awarded from state agencies and statewide partners

Even more good things are happening at the local level thanks to federal pass-through funding.

2016 Safe Routes to School
Safe Routes to School is a program intended to improve the safety of walking and bicycling routes for children, specifically around schools.

  1. SH 82 Pedestrian Improvements, City of Basalt
    $264,500 infrastructure grant + $66,100 local matching funds
  2. Summit Cove Elementary School Bike/Ped Safety Improvements, Summit County
    $350,000 infrastructure grant + $168,050 local matching funds

Transportation Alternatives Program (awarded in 2016 for 2018-2020)

Transportation Alternatives is a federally-funded program that provides grants for projects defined as transportation alternatives.

  1. Colorado Riverfront Trail, City of Fruita
    $1,200,000  TAP Grant + + $1,200,000 DOLA Grant + $300,000 local matching funds
  2. Gunnison US 50 Crossings, Gunnison Valley TPR
    $315,844 TAP Grant + $78,961 local matching funds
  3. Minturn Main Street Bike/Ped Planning, Intermountain TPR
    $960,000 TAP Grant + $240,000 local matching funds
  4. Steamboat Springs US40 Sidewalk Phase II, Northwest TPR
    $1,350,000 TAP Grant + $294,500 local matching funds
  5. West Gunnison US 50 Design Project, Gunnison Valley TPR
    $128,000 TAP Grant + $32,000 local matching funds

Other Funding to Region 3 “16 in 16 Trails”

  1. Palisade Plunge, City of Palisade
    $25,000 DOLA Grant + $95,000 local matching funds
  2. Freemont Pass Trail, Summit County
    $3,000,000 FLAP Grant + $344,100 local matching funds
  3. Carbondale to Crested Butte Trail, Pitkin County
    $100,000 GOCO Connect Grant
  4. Colorado Riverfront Trail, City of Fruita
    $2,000,000 GOCO Connect Grant
  5. Eagle Valley Trail, Eagle County
    $2,000,000 GOCO Connect Grant
Rachel Hultin

About the Author: Rachel Hultin

Rachel works with agencies, organizations and communities to ensure Colorado becomes the best state in the nation for riding bikes. Her passion for all forms of active transportation fuels opportunities for successful collaboration. When not talking shop, Rachel enjoys hunting for street art with her family and volunteering in her community.

COMMENTS (3)

Steve Williams - Reply

Rachel thanks for this great update. I find these all very worthy projects.
However I will continue to express my frustration with the inability to have a paved shoulder on many miles of US 40 between Kremmling and Muddy Pass and then the same on Hwy 131 from north of Oak Creek to Wolcott these are caught up in your second paragraph but it is hard to get enthused about the Pedals Project when such basic fundamental and critical stretches of highway are not safe for cyclists or motorists – it would be nice if something of that nature could be done by 2020 as well.

    Rachel Hultin - Reply

    Hi Steve. Thanks for your efforts and your advocacy to improve local state highways. We share your frustrations! And, when only 25% of Colorado’s state highways provide adequate shoulders for bicyclist, your frustrations are shared with many, many riders across the state.

    The best action advocates can take right now is to contact their state legislators with the message: any new state transportation funding should include dedicated funds for bikes so local community projects can be completed. If you haven’t done so already, take a few moments using Bicycle Colorado’s advocacy tool to make sure your voice is heard and not lost in the car-centric “build for capacity” spending. Thanks again for all you do!

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