Fraser nears final design on pedestrian safety improvement project
The town of Fraser held an open house this week to discuss the Highway 40 Pedestrian Safety Improvement Project, and to begin an open conversation regarding the aesthetics of the project.
The undertaking is meant to create a family-friendly, safe and walkable downtown area for pedestrians and bikers, by implementing traffic calming measures such as medians, pedestrian refuge islands, and raised landscape bumpouts. Town officials also hope the improvements could encourage more travelers to stop in town, giving a boost to local businesses.
“What we hope to accomplish is to provide a safer experience for pedestrians, and basically bicycle and pedestrian traffic to be able to move around the town in a much safer manner,” said Allen Nordin, public works director for Fraser. “But also to help with business enhancements as it relates to creating a more friendly environment for people to feel like they want to stop here in Fraser and visit us. Maybe get out of their cars, walk around and spend some money.”
The project comes largely due to two sizable grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Highway Safety Improvement Program and the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Program, totaling $1.1 million, though some costs have come out of the town’s pockets. The project will end up costing the town $325,000 in matching grant costs, along with design and surveying work.
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In August the town decided to move forward with $35,000 of surveying work in order to get the project starting this year, as opposed to 2019. In November the town hired Bowman Consulting Group out of Granby to being preliminary and final engineering design services for the project, at an estimated cost of $91,000.
Months later, the town finally has something tangible to show for their efforts. At the open house on Wednesday residents were shown a map of the design initiatives. The plans call to enhance two existing crosswalks near Park and Fraser Avenues with pedestrian refuge islands, essentially a break in the middle of the highway where pedestrians can stand to improve safety for people crossing the street. A third crosswalk and island will be added near Byers and Clayton Avenues.
“The two existing crosswalks will be upgraded, and all three will share the same design,” said Nordin. “We’ve been working for 10 or 15 years to get that third one down by Byers Avenue, and it’s finally going to be a reality. It’s something we’ve always heard from the people that they want.”
The project will also include seven medians, including two “entry medians” at each end of the town. Six will be raised-landscape medians, and the town is asking residents for input on the aesthetic design. At the open house residents put stickers on their favorite designs, most featuring trees and other natural elements. Others featured sculptures, light features and other more art driven designs.
“Maybe there’s a combination of them taking one design and another and incorporating both of them to have a nice product,” said Nordin. “So I think there could be some creativity here, especially with public arts being a part of this.”
Nordin noted that the town will be careful with which design they end up choosing. While the purpose of the medians is to narrow the cone of vision somewhat to slow down traffic, the town is also wary of obstructing vision of oncoming traffic too significantly.
The medians are also meant to better channel left-turning traffic, though the placement of some of the medians has drawn at least some minor agitation from the public.
Kim Hanna, owner of the Fraser Quickstop, argued at the board of trustees meeting that the proposed median near Eisenhower Drive could potentially hinder access to her business. Other medians are proposed for just north of Fraser Avenue, Byers Avenue, between Clayton Avenue and Meadow Ridge Road, and one on each side of town.
Finally, the plans detail a number of raised landscape bumpouts, curb extensions that reduce the crossing distance and increase visibility for pedestrians.
The town is expected to take the project to bid in late May or early July, with hopes of completing the project by early November, according to Nordin.
“We’re very excited about it,” said Nordin.
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