New signal easing traffic flow at Copper |

New signal easing traffic flow at Copper

BOB BERWYNsummit daily news

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk

COPPER MOUNTAIN – Along with the twinkling Christmas decorations at Copper Mountain Resort, visitors will notice a new green, yellow and red lighting fixture this season, in the form of a long-awaited traffic signal at the junction of Copper Road and Highway 91.The stoplight, operational as of late November, has been in the works for at least 10 years, said Chuck Binford, the permit supervisor for the Colorado Department of Transportation who worked with Copper Mountain to get the job done. The signal should help ease traffic in and out of the resort and shouldn’t impede the flow of cars on Highway 91 headed for Interstate 70.

Video cameras will monitor traffic stacking up for the left-hand turn out of the resort on to Highway 91 and time the green light to match the demand. If there are one or two cars, the signal might be two or three seconds long; if there are 10 or 20 cars stacked up, it would turn green for as long as 20 to 30 seconds, Binford explained. “It’s going to make it so much easier to get out of the resort and make that left turn on to the highway,” said Todd Morgan, the Intrawest construction manager who spearheaded the project for Copper. “I’ve already seen some obvious improvements, even though we haven’t hit the busiest season yet.”The signal didn’t meet CDOT requirements until now, because under a uniform national traffic management manual, highway planners look at a list of 11 warrants that help define whether a traffic light is needed. Factors include the rate of traffic, the number of accidents at a given crossing and the amount of pedestrian traffic.

“You don’t want to put in a light before it’s really needed because it just becomes a nuisance,” Binford said.Binford said one of the keys at the Copper junction was completion of the trail crossing. Additional improvements include lane signs that will help keep drivers in the correct position, a raised median and landscaping.

The new light should also make it easier to access the Corn parking lot on the east side of the highway and extensive coning used in the past to control traffic movements on busy ski days.Capt. Ron Prater, Colorado State Patrol commander for the area, said the light will help make the intersection safer, but officers will still control the junction at critical times with a manual override.