Downtown Winter Park Highway 40 project includes new traffic light |

Downtown Winter Park Highway 40 project includes new traffic light

A sign seen on the edge of Winter Park announces the dates the North Portal Enhancement Project is set to begin and end.
Reid Tulley | Sky-Hi News

WINTER PARK — Numerous improvements are slated for the northern end of U.S. Highway 40 in Winter Park.

Starting Aug. 12 and continuing through Nov. 1., an improvements project will include a new traffic light at the intersection of Highway 40 and East Kings Crossing Road, crosswalks for pedestrians, longer merging lanes coming into and going out of town, turning lanes, improvements to drainage, new storm water treatment units, 28 new parking spaces on the west side of the highway, and new asphalt and sidewalk.

“This project has been in the queue for quite a while and we are happy to begin implementation of the project,” said Winter Park Town Manager Drew Nelson.

The town board approved spending up to $1.9 million on the project, which is more than the town originally anticipated spending when the project was first approved by the Colorado Department of Transportation, though substantially lower than the only bid the town received.

The bid came back at $2.5 million, substantially higher than the town engineer’s estimated cost for the project of $1.9 million, so the town opted to suspend improvements to East Kings Crossing Road, including a new sidewalk, until a later date.

Making a safer road

According to Nelson, the project will “first and foremost” improve safety for both motorists and pedestrians on the road. The project will also help to improve drainage and water quality issues and gives a boost to the aesthetic appeal along the roadway.

The intersection where the traffic signal will be installed is the most dangerous in the Fraser Valley, according to Nelson, due to the bottleneck created near East Kings Crossing Road where there is heavy interaction between pedestrians and motorists.

The installation of the traffic signal and the lengthening of the merging lanes on the road will help to alleviate the dangers associated with the intersection, Nelson said. It may allow motorists more time to merge and provide pedestrians a crosswalk controlled by the new signal to offer protection from oncoming vehicles.

“I always like to joke, it’s like the horse when he sees the barn, he takes off running,” Nelson said. “When you get to the north end of Winter Park, you see the highway and you want to take off running, so this will be something that will really help temper a lot of those impulses that people have in terms of pressing on the gas.”

The town also plans to reorganize bus stop locations on Highway 40, Nelson said, including reducing the number of bus stops along the road from the current four bus stops to three.

The town also plans to remove the median that sits near the intersection to allow for a longer and safer turning lane.

Timing is everything

The town anticipates the project will be completed in about three months, starting Aug. 12 and ending Nov. 1, though is saving the most intensive work associated with the project for after Labor Day, when the town holds its last summer event the Beer Festival.

The town anticipates traffic to slow down after Labor Day, which will mean shorter delays and less traffic congestion during the intensive phases of the project. “We really try to stage our construction that way, to be mindful of business opportunities for all of our business owners,” Nelson said.

The town anticipates some delays, lane closures, and the possibility of short detours associated with the project.

Cleaning the water

The installation of two hydrodynamic separators will clean water from the roadway before it is discharged into the Fraser River, something that is currently not completed.

“All of the water that runs off of the road picks up sand, oil, and all sorts of nasty materials, and rather than discharging that strait into the Fraser River, we are going to be treating all of this water before it gets to the river,” Nelson said.

Keeping it local

All of the contractors completing the work will be local, according to Nelson, except for the traffic control contractor and the company who makes the traffic signal.

“We are taking a big step here and investing back into the community,” Nelson said.

“We are using local contractors, putting infrastructure in the ground. It’s coming out of our pockets, this isn’t dollars from outside. We are taking money that we earn here and spending it here and hopefully that encourages people to spend more of their dollars here too,” he said.

The town’s efforts to secure funding from outside sources for the project have so far proven unsuccessful.

More parking, less power lines

About 28 new parking spaces are planned to be implemented on the west side of Highway 40 to accommodate vehicles during the town’s many events.

The town will also be installing conduit under the highway right-of-way to allow for power lines to be placed underground at a future date. Town officials reason it will improve the aesthetics along the roadway while also helping to improve safety and power-line security.

Reid Tulley can be reached at 970-887-3334

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