Given its scope, traffic impacts from the construction of a roundabout at Society Turn next summer may not be severe thanks to a plan that includes the construction of a small temporary roundabout adjacent to where construction of the permanent roundabout will be taking place.
The construction strategy means that traffic will generally not have to be stopped, CDOT engineer Mike McVaugh told the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday, saving time and money. While it will be challenge, he added, construction is expected to be complete within one summer construction season.
McVaugh told council that initial plans for the roundabout have been revised to reduce the length of medians, reduce illumination to the lowest level possible without compromising safety, and to allow for landscaping and possibly some public art, all in response to requests from the Town of Telluride. In addition, the roundabout will incorporate an automated de-icing system, with the elevation of the entire roundabout raised about three feet to ensure drainage of melting snow and ice.
The drainage system incorporates sprinklers that will spray deicing fluid on the highway when sensors detect that it is necessary. A small structure would house equipment and de-icing fluid.
“This will be the first application of a de-icing system by CDOT on a roundabout, McVaugh said. “They’ve been used on the Front Range on bridges.”
While a roundabout will cost $2.5-$3 million, or $900,000 more than a traffic signal would have cost at Society Turn, local governments have agreed to cover the difference, with the Town of Telluride contributing $675,000, and San Miguel County and the Town of Mountain Village adding $200,000 and $25,000 respectively. Apart from a general distaste for seeing the first traffic light in the county, local officials have agreed to fund a roundabout over a traffic signal because it can handle more traffic and will therefore have a longer life. In addition, roundabouts experience fewer and less damaging traffic accidents than signaled intersections do.
The work at Society Turn is just one of four major road projects in the Telluride region slated to begin this spring. The others are a two-year project to replace the bridge across the Uncompahgre River in Ridgway, replacement of the Leopard Creek Bridge just below Placerville, and resurfacing Hwy. 145 between Society Turn and the top of Lizard Head Pass.
“It won’t be pretty,” McVaugh allowed.