Traffic enters the roundabout at exit 203 June 2 from Frisco to Interstate 70 West.
Photo by Liz Copan/Summit Daily Archive

KEYSTONE — Colorado Department of Transportation officials met with Summit County commissioners on Tuesday, Sept. 1 to discuss the department’s efforts to alleviate traffic buildup in the area.

CDOT made a presentation at the Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting, which served as the second quarterly update between CDOT officials and commissioners. At the meeting, officials shared updates on construction and traffic control strategies in Frisco and Silverthorne.

In an effort to facilitate traffic from southern Grand County to Silverthorne and other parts of Summit County, CDOT is conducting countywide signal timing studies.

“What we’re trying to accomplish by doing this is to create a sort of temporary relief valve for traffic that’s primarily coming from north of Grand County and returning to Front Range,” said Bently Henderson, deputy director of the county for community development. , public works and transportation. “During the summer months, it backs up quite dramatically along Highway 6.”

After a pause in the study due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the department is continuing efforts to reduce congestion, said Andi Staley, CDOT’s Region 3 traffic operations engineer. The study will include 35 traffic lights, Staley said.

The purpose of studying signal timing is to make traffic less congested during off-peak hours. There’s not much the department can do when it has record numbers in the county, Staley said.

“The reality is we can only fit 60 seconds in a minute,” she said. “When the area is just congested and the traffic issues are due to the overwhelming number of vehicles trying to use the facility, there aren’t many options available in the signal timing realm to address this. .”

Ultimately, the study will benefit day-to-day operations of a traffic light rather than days with abnormal amounts of congestion, Staley said. However, the department has installed “manual advance buttons” for emergency services, which allow them to change traffic lights when traffic is particularly jammed, she said.

“The big thing here is to make the most of the infrastructure we already have,” said Tom Daugherty, director of public works at Silverthorne. “If I remember correctly, the last time these signals were really timed was over 20 years or so ago. … I’ve been here longer than that and have seen drastic changes in the flow of traffic.

Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier, top left, asks a question during a Colorado Department of Transportation presentation at a meeting of the Summit Board of County Commissioners Tuesday, September 1.
Screenshot of Summit Board of County Commissioners working session

Other projects

CDOT is also working to combat the build-up of traffic at another problematic intersection: Exit 203 in Frisco. The department has proposed to create an underground passage on the frontage road connecting Dillon Dam Road to Lusher Court.

Once plans are finalized, construction could begin in 2022. The ministry recently carried out a feasibility study concentrated on the eastbound auxiliary lane between Exit 203, the intersection of Colorado Highway 9 and Dillon Dam Road in Frisco, and Exit 205, the Highway 9 and Interstate 70 interchange in Silverthorne, said Grant Anderson, CDOT’s resident engineer at Silverthorne.

The project will now go to the Federal Highway Administration for approval, Anderson said.

Anderson also provided an update on the Highway 9 Gap Project, which is an effort to widen the road between Breckenridge and Frisco to two lanes. The project is set to close for the winter by Nov. 1, he said.

“It shouldn’t look like a construction project over the winter,” Anderson said. “And we will have all four lanes open for the ski season. So that will be good news. »

While the area should be easy to navigate in the winter, drivers should expect more delays surrounding the project during the construction season next summer, Anderson said.

“The idea will be, in the spring, to come in and narrow it down to one lane in each direction, unfortunately, to create a working area,” he said. “I think the delays next season will probably be bigger than what we’ve seen this season.”