Copper considers roundabout, traffic light |

Copper considers roundabout, traffic light

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Roundabouts may keep traffic flowing better than lights, but they seem to have few fans at Copper Mountain.

As the Ten Mile Planning Commission reviews Intrawest’s latest development proposal for Copper Mountain, commissioners, Intrawest officials and members of the public are debating how best to manage traffic at the resort’s main entrance, at Copper Road and Highway 91.

Intrawest officials have proposed using a roundabout or a traffic signal both to manage heavy traffic flows entering or exiting the resort and to decrease the speed of drivers coming from Leadville on Highway 91.

To date, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has only one roundabout in Summit County – in Frisco, where the north end of Summit Boulevard intersects the westbound lane of Interstate 70.

It’s too soon to know whether that roundabout has increased safety at that intersection, said Bob Wilson, CDOT spokesman. The Frisco roundabout is only a few years old, he said, and CDOT officials need at least five years of data to make an official determination.

“At this point, we don’t have enough data to say this has made it safer,” Wilson said. “I know that a lot of traffic engineers, on a personal level, like roundabouts because you don’t have to maintain a traffic signal, and they keep traffic moving.”

Traffic lights require more maintenance and can lead to heavier traffic backups, he said.

Wilson would not comment specifically on CDOT’s preference for Copper Mountain.

Though roundabouts require less maintenance and may manage traffic flows better, few people seem to support a roundabout at Copper Mountain.

“Single-lane roundabouts really do work, and they are easily understood,” said Copper homeowner Tom Golej. But when they involve several lanes – as Copper’s would – they create confusion and become a safety issue, he said.

Roundabouts are effective when all vehicles are going the same speed, said Copper homeowner Karl Anuta. He said a traffic signal would be more effective at Copper, however, because of the disparity of speeds involved.

Most homeowners at Copper agree a traffic signal would be more effective and safer for Copper Mountain – for vehicular traffic as well as cyclists and pedestrians (using the recreational bike path from Frisco to Vail Pass) crossing the highway.

“I think that traffic lights are the best way to go,” said homeowner Bob Root. “I get a little nervous in circles. You just never know which way the other driver is going to go.”

Nor have roundabouts received rave reviews from commissioners.

“The Frisco roundabout doesn’t get a passing grade – traffic backs up down Silverthorne Hill,” said Commissioner Gary Wilkinson. And the roundabout in Avon is confusing, he said.

“I also agree with the traffic light as opposed to the roundabout,” said Commissioner Dick Boylan.

Only Commissioner Chairman Dan Basica had a positive comment about roundabouts.

“One of the things about roundabouts; if there is an accident, they tend to be fender benders,” Basica said.

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