Montrose, CO – Representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation delivered an update to the City Council Monday, focusing on a number of issues involving safety improvements and growth along the U.S. Highway 550 corridor south of Montrose. CDOT is planning another public open house November 15.
Motorists traveling south of Montrose can already see safety improvements being implemented as new striping has been installed on sections of highway totaling about three miles along the roadway. The 550 Access Control Plan is focused on a 9-mile stretch of the highway from Otter Road to the Ouray County line.
Michelle Hansen of Stoflus & Associates Inc., a consulting company working for the Colorado Department of Transportation, told councilors Monday that more centerline "mumble strips" will be installed this fall. Mumble strips are an alternative to rumble strips, which are a highway safety feature that alerts inattentive drivers that they are departing from the travel lane.
A critical focus of the control plan is the intersection of Chipeta Road and U.S. Hwy 550. The intersection sits between a curve in the highway on the south end and the Uncompahgre River on the north end.
“It’s always been a very challenging intersection,” Montrose City Engineer Scott Murphy said.
Hansen said a couple of options are being explored to increase safety at the intersection and to make sure the roadway can support increased traffic due to growth. The first option, Hansen said, was to keep the intersection as is, but add a traffic signal and explore new turn lanes onto Chipeta Road. The second option is to move the entire intersection south near the Hanging Tree filling station and completely remove the option to turn north directly from Chipeta Road.
CDOT is working with partners at the City of Montrose and Montrose County to determine the best of the two options.
"Once we put a signal in, we're not taking it out,” said Dan Roussin, Permit Unit Manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation Region 3 office in Grand Junction. "(We need to) get all of our partners together to get a solution together."
Roussin said recent traffic studies associated with possible subdivision developments suggest the roadway would need to be expanded to four lanes to accommodate the growth and increased traffic demand.
With any decision, CDOT will be talking with landowners along the highway and recording public feedback through an open house scheduled for November 15 in Montrose.
Hansen said increased cooperation with landowners, residents, motorists and business owners along U.S. Hwy 550 would "reduce the number of conflicts and reduce crashes." Hansen said CDOT is conducting "one-on-one" interviews with landowners along 550.
Another issue under consideration is the highway bridge over the Uncompahgre River. Hansen said the bridge could be in need of redesign to accommodate four lanes of traffic and new turn lanes. Murphy said the replacement of the bridge would cost millions of dollars.
City Councilor Barbara Bynum said a solution needs to be found before a situation or event occurs that will "set a process in motion that we (city) can no longer control."
CDOT admits more safety measures on the roadway can only happen when more funding for such projects is allocated. In April CDOT hosted a public open house in the City Council chambers. At that time CDOT concluded that "widening to four lanes is not planned at this time, but may occur as properties south of Montrose develop."
CDOT stated that the need for passing lanes at Trout Road was identified in an engineering study, but they were shown to have "a very low benefit-to-cost ratio when considering benefits to both travel time and safety."
More information about the public open house will be released when it becomes available.
For more city news visit: CityOfMontrose.org