Construction widening Colorado 9 to four lanes between Valley Brook Road and Fairview Boulevard could begin as early as June 1, said project engineer Bob Smith with the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The estimated $12 million project "was ready and sitting on the shelf" before federal stimulus money came through and provided the needed finances, Smith said.
"There was no funding in the near future for it without the stimulus," he said of the project, which affects traffic between Breckenridge and Frisco. "It could have been three or four more years, easily."
In addition to lane widening, the project is to realign the recreation path farther from the road, adding a bridge over the Blue River north of Valley Brook Road, he said.
There will be a possible detour for the recpath during the construction, but the highway is expected to remain passable to motor vehicles during most of the construction.
"For most of the project there will be one lane in each direction still open, with occasional (traffic) down to one lane," Smith said.
The project is expected to take about 18 months, with a hiatus for the 2009-10 winter season.
Though the project is a necessary step toward a continuous, four-lane road between Breckenridge and Frisco, not everybody's excited about it.
"I think it's one of these deals " be careful what you wish for; you may get it," Breckenridge Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron said.
He said the estimated 18 months of construction time comes when local businesses are "precariously perched."
The potential for "road-rage central" on the highway could have a negative impact during construction, he said.
"I think it's a benefit to the town to a small degree, but before (it will likely be) a hindrance," Bergeron said, adding that the winter pause in construction could be troubling.
Smith said it's uncertain whether progress by winter would allow for four lanes during the months without construction.
Councilman Peter Joyce said the project benefits the community by offering a segment of road construction toward the goal of a continuous, four-lane highway " which was expected to take as many as 10 years.
He said that considering the many "bad accidents" that have happened where lanes converge from two to one, the improvements are needed.
"From a safety perspective, that's part of what really got this thing going," Joyce said.
Smith said another segment of the highway " from Tiger Road north to Agape Outpost Chapel " is on the list for a possible second round of stimulus funding.
"We'll finish between Swan Mountain Road and Breckenridge first, before we start working on the next section" which includes the segment along the shores of Lake Dillon, he said.
Construction bids for the Valley Brook to Fairview project
are to go out April 30. The project was selected for stimulus money because of its high priority, Smith said.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.