Design work starts on Ignacio stoplight

CDOT updates town board on project

Surveys are done and design work has started for Ignacio's downtown stoplight, Colorado Department of Transportation representatives told Ignacio town trustees on June 18.

The big concern for downtown businesses has been parking. That will be protected, engineer Mike McVaugh said.

The project includes items from a downtown steering committee and included in the 2011 Ignacio Corridor Access Plan - namely, converting Ute Street to a single lane going one way west from the Highway 172/ 151 intersection to the Wells Fargo driveway. Diagonal parking will be added on both sides of the one-way lane. The diagram McVaugh had showed six spaces on each side.

A couple of existing parking spaces might be lost, but there will be a net gain of spaces, he said.

"We were very clear from the businesses that they want to keep the parking," McVaugh said. "I think we can keep the majority of it. With this design, the long-term plan is that Ute Street would go one way with diagonal parking. Our plan is to carry forward this concept into our design. The design doesn't have left turn lanes. Someday we may have to do it."

As of 2011, the current intersection had a service level E, just above failing, McVaugh said. Pedestrian safety isn't good. The signal is projected to raise the service level to A, with an eight second delay per vehicle and better pedestrian safety.

"We look 20 years in the future," McVaugh said. As of 2031, still with no turn lanes or loss of parking, the service level is projected to be B. However, he also said full turn lanes might be needed by then.

For the near term, he said, "We may have a split signal where southbound gets a left turn while the northbound is still stopped. Then both north and south get green." He said that isn't as safe for pedestrians as left turn lanes.

Phase 2 would be a left turn lane on 151, which also would not affect parking and would maintain a service level of B, McVaugh said. He didn't say when that might happen.

Ute Street will have "bulb outs" at the corner that provide a place for utility poles and street-scaping, and a shorter distance for pedestrians crossing Ute.

"We will make sure big trucks can turn there," McVaugh said, although it wasn't clear if that includes full size semis supplying the future grocery store that will replace the now closed Shur Valu. Trustee Dixie Melton raised that concern. Audience member Bernadette Lopez said full-size semis supplied the old store from the alley.

"We'll take care of that in the design," McVaugh said.

The total preliminary budget for the intersection is $1.8 million, with $1.43 million paid by a CDOT RAMP grant, McVaugh said. The town share will be $10,000. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and La Plata County each will pay $180,000, he said.

In 2013, Ignacio's high-traffic intersection was among around 60 projects statewide that got RAMP funds out of more than 360 applications, he said. Bayfield also applied but was not selected. RAMP stands for Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Projects.

McVaugh noted that town officials needed to sign an intergovernmental agreement for the project by June 30. The IGA includes a timeline including a late stage Final Office Review in January 2015.

"If the town wanted a change at that stage, you would have to bear the cost," he said.

Engineer Ed Archuleta said, "We agreed (in the IGA) that any work that (town public works staff) does contributes to the town's $10,000 share." He speculated that June 30 might not be a drop dead date to sign the IGA, because CDOT has a lot of them to process.

The town's new attorney, David Liberman, raised some concerns with the IGA. "The last draft I saw required the town to budget $370,000 rather than $10,000 and makes the town responsible to collect the $180,000 from the tribe and the county, or the town is on the hook for it. ... The contract made the town responsible to convey right of way to CDOT."

McVaugh responded, "If right of way is needed, CDOT will acquire it." He didn't address Liberman's other concerns.

A kick-off meeting with town staff will be on July 11, McVaugh said. A field inspection is tentatively set for September to compare design plans with the site "to see if there's anything we missed."

He estimated that the project will go out for bid in late 2015. "We don't know if we have to acquire any right of way," he said. "That can take up to nine months. If we don't have to do that, we may be able to advertise in summer 2015."

Town trustee Linda Moore commented, "It's exciting. We've been working on this a long time."

Mayor Stella Cox echoed the sentiment. "The town is excited, and we are looking forward to it."