|An idle backhoe frames the railroad tracks across Carbonville Road. Those tracks, where they are and how a new road will be constructed around them, has been a hinderance for the revamp project on the road.|
The plan to revamp Carbonville Road has been creeping along since last year’s public meeting where the project was proposed to residents and landowners along the route.
At that time, county officials were hoping for a 2004 starting date for the project. But due to several complications, the date appears to have been set back by a year.
“Phase one, starting from the south end of Carbonville Road is slated (for construction) during the summer of 2005,” stated Carbon Commissioner Bill Krompel in a letter to the other two county lawmakers on Tuesday. “The final phase on the north end would be completed in the summer of 2006.”
The holdup has been the result of a few things, but is primarily due to an ongoing attempt to get all the rights of way to the property needed to expand and improve the road.
Before the 1970s, the road was the main thoroughfare through the county (the old Highway 6 route).
“We have about 85 percent of the rights of way on the west side of the road completed,” said Krompel on Monday. “The east side is all the railroad’s and we are still doing some negotiations.”
For months, it appeared that no movement was being achieved in the railroad negotiations. But in early May, Creamer and Noble, the county’s engineers for the project sent Krompel a letter spelling out the conditions the railroad wishes to have should it grant the rights of way needed.
The first of the conditions is that the county maintain a 25 foot clear minimum and the county said it can reduce the east proposed shoulder from six feet to three feet to achieve that request.
The second thing Union Pacific was concerned about was the 2:1 slope planned for the project. The railroad company asked that it not be started until a distance of 15 feet from the existing track center line.
Carbon officials indicated that the county can meet that requirement. But doing so may require several hundred feet of two to four foot high retaining walls along the road.
However the final request from the railroad may be a bit harder for the county to meet. The company wants the county to install a six foot chain link fence all along the route to restrict the general public’s access to UPRR property.
“That could get very expensive,” said Krompel. “We figure it would increase the cost of the project by $175,000.”
The commissioner said he is not sure why Union Pacific is asking a fence be built. At the present time there is no existing fence along the road and the public would still have open access on the east side of the tracks, as well as at the crossings.
The main goal of the $2 million plus project is to upgrade the road to modern day specifications. The road only meets the standards of a 1950s highway. It is during that time period when the last major reconstruction of the highway was accomplished.
Interestingly enough, the road is the busiest county road in Carbon County, and in fact has more traffic now than it had in its highest usage during the 1940s and 1950s when it was the main route for cars traveling from Colorado to Salt Lake. At that time 3,000 to 4,000 cars a day passed through the county on that road. Today there are 5,000 cars per day on the road (now mostly local traffic) and that number is expected to double or triple by 2020.
While the road is not the hotbed of business it was in the 1950s, it still has 27 businesses between where it joins Price City’s Main Street and where it joins the present Highway 6 in Blue Cut.
Along the road there are motels, gas stations, a bowling alley, night clubs, restaurants, industrial buildings both big and small, as well as a number of vehicle maintenance shops.
Two of the biggest problems along Carbonville Road are the lack of turn lanes and the fact that so many obstacles are so close to a road where the speed limit is 50 miles per hour.
The new project will create a “third lane” in the middle of the road that will allow people to turn either direction, much like what is on East Main Street in Price. In addition there will be turnoffs for right turns from the road, where now a vehicle must stay in its traveling lane until it completes its turn. In some areas the engineering on this type of thing will be challenging, especially along the railroad tracks.
The obstacles along the road are also of major concern. Modern highways have “clear zones” surrounding them. These are areas where there are no stationary objects that are not designed to break away if they are hit. For instance, many of the guard rails that are put in place today are energy absorbing instead of solid as they were in the old days. Modern signs are not cemented directly into holes in the ground filled with concrete, but have a break away point with thin bolts so that they will not cause as much damage to a vehicle upon impact.
What most engineers strive for in designing or redesigning highways is to make it so a driver can have the room to get control of their vehicle without hitting any solid objects. Almost 50 percent of accidents are one car mishaps and a good percentage of those involve running into or taking out objects along roads.
The reconstruction project’s viability concerning the problems with the road, as well as the amount of traffic it carries, is reinforced by a recent report released by the Carbon County Sheriff’s Department concerning accidents, damage, deaths and injuries on county roads. Carbonville Road headed the list of county byways accidents by quite a margin with 70 accidents occurring on the highway between January 1, 2001 and May 30, 2004. In those accidents $178,150 in damage was incurred, eight injuries were recorded and one death was reported.
The next highest total for accidents came from Old Wellington Road with 14 accidents, $342,875 in damage and four injuries, one of them critical.