Road projects on U.S. 85 to improve traffic flow, safety
By Chris Michlewicz; graphic by Tim Gamble
Multiple construction projects intended to improve safety and traffic flow on U.S. 85 are underway.
Construction continues on a road widening project between Sedalia and Louviers, where crews are paving future northbound lanes before reconstructing the southbound lanes through the summer.
Douglas County is still awaiting the delivery of backlogged materials for the installation of a new traffic light at U.S. 85 and Daniels Park Road this fall. The County expects that work to be completed by the end of the year with minimal disruptions to traffic. Meanwhile, the Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) has been undergrounding power lines to make way for the work. Douglas County had to acquire right-of-ways to complete the project, which will cost an estimated $500,000. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will control and maintain the traffic light once the project is finished.
“It’s somewhat of a blind hill when you’re on Daniels Park Road and making a left onto 85,” said Art Griffith, capital improvements projects manager for the County. “You have to creep out, then you have to gun it.”
IREA set underground power lines far back from the lanes of travel on U.S. 85 in anticipation of a widening project in the next 5-10 years, although funding has not yet been set aside for the widening. The undergrounding, however, along with the moving of utility lines on the other side of the railroad tracks, will ultimately save taxpayers about $2 million in potential future costs, Griffith said.
Next summer, construction crews will also add 4-foot shoulders to both directions of U.S. 85 between Daniels Park Road and the Castle Rock Parkway interchange. At this point, traffic impacts are difficult to determine since the project team still has to work through design parameters that will affect the traffic control plan.
“Since there are essentially no roadway shoulders present for much of the project area, it is likely U.S. 85 will be reduced down to a single lane utilizing flaggers or temporary signals to safely direct traffic through the work zone,” said Presley Fowler, communications coordinator for CDOT’s region 1.
The $880,000 project is being partially funded by a grant from the state’s Safer Main Streets program, a $76-million program meant to improve safety on Colorado’s most dangerous travel corridors. Cities and counties submitted their best and most creative solutions to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes, increase support for all modes of travel, and improve access and mobility for vulnerable users who depend on a reliable urban street network – such as pedestrians, bikers, motorcyclists, transit users, the elderly, and those with disabilities.
The County is waiting on approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an easement to move a 60-inch-diameter water supply line owned by the City of Englewood before it starts on the major reconstruction and widening project between Highlands Ranch Parkway to Dad Clark Gulch, which is located 1,200 feet north of County Line Road. The Englewood water line relocation project will occur along the west side of U.S. 85 between Blakeland Drive and Dad Clark Gulch, and is estimated to cost over $1 million. In addition to Englewood’s water line, several other utility relocations are underway or starting soon, including Xcel Energy gas and electric lines and lines owned by CenturyLink. The county’s contractor recently finished relocating portions of Centennial Water and Sanitation District’s infrastructure. The utility relocations between Highlands Ranch Parkway and C-470 are required to accommodate the widening of U.S. 85 from four lanes to six lanes in that area. The 30-month-long major construction project is anticipated get underway in late 2021 or early 2022.