BRECKENRIDGE - Eight years after it was approved, the Colorado Transportation Commission has committed $10 million to complete the Highway 9 widening project between Breckenridge and Summit High School.
After a two-year hiatus, work will recommence in the summer of 2013 and likely continue into the summer of 2014, according to local officials.
Colorado Department of Transportation crews will be widening the state highway to two lanes in each direction between Tiger Road and Agape Outpost church.
"It will eliminate the lane-scrambling currently happening northbound near Tiger Run and southbound near Agape church where the highway goes from four lanes to two," assistant Summit County manager Thad Noll stated in an email to the Summit Daily. "And (it) will significantly help with winter traffic issues when it's complete."
The project will also include a new roundabout at Fairview Boulevard and a new bridge over the Blue River at Tiger Run equipped with an underpass, allowing both the stream and the Colorado Trail to continue uninterrupted beneath the road.
The aging culverts that currently allow the Blue River to pass under the road have been a point of concern for CDOT engineers for some time.
The $2 million roundabout is intended to improve access to and from the Breckenridge Building Center and the Silver Shekel neighborhood.
The four-laning work and new bridge are expected to cost $8 million.
The project will cause significant traffic impacts, officials say, but is not expected to be as difficult to widen as the Valley Brook to Coyne Valley section because the highway is fairly flat.
Still ahead is the planned Hwy. 9 widening from the high school to Frisco, a project with an estimated $30 million price tag. An additional environmental study needs to be completed on the final stretch of road before the project design work can begin.
At the request of the county and other local interest groups, CDOT is considering a complete realignment of the highway between Frisco and Farmer's Korner across an area known as Iron Springs.
"The new alignment is nearly half a mile shorter than the current route, would improve recreational access to the reservoir, create a new recreation path connection between Swan Mountain Road and the Frisco recreation peninsula and likely reduce environmental impacts significantly," Noll stated.
CDOT initially shied away from the Iron Springs alignment because it would have cut through the pristine forests alongside the existing highway. But in recent years beetle kill has devastated the trees in the area, making the alignment a more viable option.
The Hwy. 9 widening project, intended to ultimately create a four-lane road running all the way from Frisco to Breckenridge, began with the stretch between Swan Mountain Road and Agape Outpost church, was completed in 2008 for $5.6 million. CDOT completed the $11 million expansion between Valley Brook and Coyne Valley Road in 2010 with the use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
Next summer's work will coincide with a widening project on Interstate 70 at the Twin Tunnels in Clear Creek County, which is expected to cause significant traffic impacts.