Fraser moves forward with project to install medians on Highway 40 despite objections of business owners
Updated May 18 with correction: A previous version of this story stated that drivers wouldn’t be able to turn left from Highway 40 onto Eisenhower Drive. Drivers will be able to turn left onto Eisenhower, but not into the Shell Station.
The Fraser Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project at their regular meeting Wednesday night, ordering town staff to push the project out to bid despite notable resistance from town residents.
The motion passed 5-2, with Mayor Pro-Tem Eileen Waldow and Herb Meyring representing the dissenting votes.
The Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project is meant to create a safer and more walkable downtown area by implementing traffic calming measures like medians, pedestrian refuge islands and raised landscape bumpouts. But the proposal is far from controversial, and more than a dozen Fraser residents arrived to voice their opinions on the project.
Perhaps the most passionate testimony was from Kim Hanna, owner of the Fraser Quickstop, who has been an open opponent to the project for weeks, particularly the proposed median on Eisenhower and Highway 40 that will effectively remove the double-left turn lane and create dedicated left turn lanes. This means that motorists will no longer be able to make a left hand turn into the Shell Station, a prospect that Hanna and other business owners in the area fear will be bad for business.
“Mine isn’t the only business that’s going to be affected,” said Hanna. “You’re going to slow people down, but they’re not going to be able to turn left into the businesses…it’s going to change the way people drive. Some people may decide they’re coming in anyway, but others may decide they’re just going to go to Granby or Winter Park.”
Hanna also produced a petition opposing the project with more than 430 signatures. Other opponents to the project pointed to the “statistically insignificant” rate of accidents at the intersection.
Some, including members of the board, raised the idea of keeping the proposed medians on either end of town and removing the Eisenhower medians from the plan. But complications with the grants the town received from CDOT made the town hesitant to make changes.
The town received two grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvements Program and CDOT’s Safe Routes to School Program totaling more than $1 million. The town’s fear is that any adjustments to the medians could potentially result in the loss the Highway Safety Improvements grant, more than $400,000 dollars. And because both grants are part of a single intergovernmental agreement, the move could potentially risk both grants.
Several advocates for the project also spoke during the meeting, pointing to the necessity for improved safety measures, slowed traffic and more a pedestrian friendly downtown to support local businesses.
“As an adult I’m frightened to cross the street,” said Barry Young, Fraser resident. “People are not driving 35 miles-per-hour. There’s a boom going on in Granby right now, and a lot of cars are driving through Fraser. It’s just going to get worse and worse in terms of cars coming by, and they’re going fast. From a safety perspective I think this is really critical.”
Others pointed to the aesthetics of the project as a major boon to the town.
“Fraser is ugly,” said Patty Marshall. “But it could be charming. I think these proposals with the medians, flowers and sidewalks will make it much more charming.”
Ultimately the board decided to move forward with the project, and voted to send it out to bid.
Fraser Valley Elementary
As part of the Safe Routes to School grant from CDOT, Fraser needed to implement an educational component for the project. Fourth graders from Fraser Valley Elementary stepped up to the plate and made recommendations for safety improvements near the school to the board.
Students came to school early to observe the parking lot, interviewed teachers and staff and surveyed parents to decide which initiatives could be most impactful for improving safety.
The students came up with three proposals. The first recommendation was to create two new crosswalks near the school’s entrance, and to purchase a couple of crossing guard vests so that staff can help students and parents cross the parking lot more safely during the mornings and afternoons.
Second, the students recommended making a series of purchases including a solar-powered flashing stop sign that is easier to see at night and in inclement weather, a custom bike rack to encourage more students to bike to school, and a Spanish drop off sign to make sure everyone can read and understand the rules of the drop off line.
Finally, the students recommended putting together a parking lot safety brochure that would inform parents and community members of the new improvements and features in the parking lot.
Fraser MTB Fest
The town board approved a $20,000 expenditure to help fund the new Fraser MTB Fest, a three-day mountain bike festival coming to Fraser in the last weekend of July.
The event will feature the Colorado State Championships in dual slalom, as well as a dirt jump competition as the major spectator events. There will also be events for more novice riders to enjoy, according to Allie Heon, economic development specialist for the town. The festival will also include live music, food trucks, beer and spirits vendors and more.
Chris Olivier, manager of Ski Broker and owner of PlusSizeBMX LLC, is the managing entity for the festival.
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