Lamar Officials Briefed on Reliever Route Updates

Left to Right: Lamar City Administrator John Sutherland, County Commissioners: Cook, Buxton-Andrade, Schnabel, and CDOT Commissioner Bill Thibeaut

Left to Right: Lamar City Administrator John Sutherland, County Commissioners: Cook, Buxton-Andrade, Schnabel, and CDOT Commissioner Bill Thibeaut

The long anticipated Reliever Route or Lamar By-pass is still in the planning and financing stages, but some alternatives for three key points of the 9.7 mile, two lane road around Lamar were discussed by CDOT and AECOM engineering officials this past Wednesday, September 30th.

City of Lamar, Prowers County officials and local and regional CDOT representatives, Brian Long and Bill Thiebaut, Colorado Transportation Commissioner, attended a briefing update on the status of the CDOT reliever route proposed for Lamar, Colorado.

CDOT and Local Officials Review Reliever Route Map

CDOT and Local Officials Review Reliever Route Map

The discussion was led by AECOM engineer, Steven Giessen, who provided an update on the route, following an Environmental Assessment study of the impact of the route, proposed for the east of Lamar, connecting several interchanges with major highways in and out of the city. “Anyone of our staff who stayed in town overnight has a clear indication of why this route is needed,” he explained at the outset. Giessen reiterated CDOT’s need for constructing the Reliever Route; lots of truck traffic on a road that’s no longer designed to handle the numbers; potential safety concerns at railroad crossings, difficulty in large vehicles to make right angle turns at the Main Street intersection and transportation of hazardous materials through the downtown area.

Giessen explained the reasoning behind some changes for the intersections north and south of Lamar as well as to the east where the Reliever Route will cross over Highway 50, a canal, railroad tracks and the Arkansas River. The northern interchange at the KLMR curve has been modified to offer just two bridge construction projects instead of the four proposed earlier. Most of the updates have been driven by economy. The number of loops needed to enter and leave the city on the northern intersection has also decreased, although travelers can still opt to stay on Highway 50 to enter the town or continue eastward on the Reliever Route. The Port of Entry will still be moved along the Route, between the Arkansas River and the new eastern interchange. He said there were some concerns about raising the Route enough to be out of the flood plain. The general consensus, initiated by Prowers County Commissioner, Henry Schnabel, would be to eliminate the need for any roundabouts at the northern interchange. Brian Long, resident CDOT engineer in Lamar, agreed citing safety issues and how a slower traffic pattern between semis and regular vehicles could create a problem, especially with any ‘T’ traffic stops which have created several accidents in the past.

The southern entry route along Highway 287 is still a concern to local residents, especially downtown retailers. Commissioner Wendy Buxton Andrade stressed the need to keep the northern flow of traffic on as straight a route into town as possible. CDOT officials said an intersection is not needed at the south end at this time, until perhaps at least 2040. They currently propose a fork where the left movement on the northbound traffic would go directly into town. Another option would require an exit to go into Lamar. Buxton-Andrade said, “That one wasn’t favorable at all with the business owners,” as it would require a more conscious effort to leave the Reliever Route to enter into Lamar. The CDOT officials said they could construct the route to find some way to make the

entrance into the downtown area obvious to the motorist. “It’s not just something you would fly by, you would realize that this is the exit or where you turn to get to the businesses and into Lamar,” they explained.   Buxton-Andrade commented that it would be hard sell for a lot of business owner’s downtown, “We need to see if we can focus to try and get the other alternative,” she explained.

CDOT said an interchange would be warranted due to the volume of traffic leaving town from the north end of the Reliever Route and Main Street. “You’d need a grade separation for Highway 196 and the Reliever Route into a diamond interchange. The exit would continue straight as in the current plans and go around and follow the KLMR curve. Northbound, exiting Lamar, you would take a left off Main Street and continue along Highway 50 to the west. This stop would be located south of the Canal. The officials provided a cost estimate of the project, ranging between $159M to $190M depending on the options selected for the final project.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEnvironmentFeaturedLamarProwers CountyPublic SafetyTourismTransportationUtilities


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.