Dillon, Summit County consider roundabout at US Highway 6 and Lake Dillon Drive to improve safety
Dillon and Summit County officials are in early discussions about bringing a new roundabout to the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Lake Dillon Drive, a move meant to help slow traffic in the area, support growing car volumes and provide better connectivity for pedestrians.
The Summit Board of County Commissioners attended a joint work session with the Dillon Town Council on Tuesday, May 18, joined by representatives of Mead & Hunt, a consulting firm recently hired to provide surveying, conceptual design and cost estimate work on the project.
“My professional opinion is that a roundabout would work very well here and that it would meet the needs of the community very well,” design leader Troy Pankratz said. “… The benefits of a roundabout at this location are that we’ll be able to reduce the speed of traffic geometrically. … Also the slower speeds provide for very comfortable pedestrian crossings.”
In addition to calming traffic, Pankratz said a roundabout could help to improve the area’s aesthetic over the current signaled intersection and provide better access to the proposed Summit County Road 51 workforce housing project, a development being designed in partnership between Dillon, Summit County and the U.S. Forest Service that could bring 270 to 350 new units to the area if it comes to fruition.
Representatives with Mead & Hunt presented three very early concepts for the project, the first of which included a five-leg roundabout that would provide access to Lake Dillon Drive, Evergreen Road, C.R. 51 and both directions of Highway 6. Other concepts included a four-leg roundabout at the main intersection, along with a smaller roundabout at the intersection of Evergreen Road and Piney Acres Circle.
But a considerable amount of work is yet to be done before officials sign off on any plans. Paul Silberman, project manager for Mead & Hunt, said the group would continue working on traffic analysis through the area, topographic surveys, utility and environmental impacts and more.
“We expect to do some iterations and have some things on the cutting room floor to get something functional,” Silberman said at the meeting. “Of course, just like any project, there are competing objectives. … There’s going to need to be some flexibility in design. … We’ll vet out different concepts and bring them back to you to review them, the advantages and disadvantages, and make a decision and select a preferred alternative.”
The design work is expected to cost about $125,000, which will be split between the Dillon and Summit County governments.
Following the joint meeting with the Board of County Commissioners, Dillon Town Council members dove into a larger discussion regarding safety on Highway 6. Dillon Police Chief Cale Osborn said town staff has been in conversations with the Colorado Department of Transportation about potential changes that could improve safety on the roadway in the short and long term.
CDOT representatives who tuned into the meeting said they were looking at ways to help further slow traffic, like switching up lane striping in trouble areas around the highway, such as Corinthian Circle and Tenderfoot Street, or bringing in additional radar feedback signs. The department is also in the process of putting together a new signal-timing plan for the summer to help ease congestion between Interstate 70 and Lake Dillon Drive.
CDOT engineer Zane Znamenacek said that with dramatic shifts in traffic volume and conditions throughout the year, the roadway might also be well-suited for variable speed signs as opposed to stagnate ones.
“Besides heavy infrastructure projects like the roundabout or medians and things like that, which would be great out there if they weren’t so darn expensive, looking at the idea of maybe implementing a variable speed limit corridor between I-70 and Keystone,” Znamenacek said. “… A corridor like this where driving 50 mph on a good, clear day with light traffic is probably perfectly reasonable … but that’s in stark contrast to a winter storm where there’s heavy traffic, it’s 4 o’clock and Keystone just shut down and things like that. So there are such massive changing conditions out there that’s something we think might work really well.”
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