Hayden's Poplar Street opens a week early

Project widened road to 3 lanes, improved drainage

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— Poplar Street, closed since September for construction to widen it from two to three lanes and improve storm sewer drainage, was reopened Friday - a week ahead of schedule.

Hayden Town Manager Russ Martin said he was pleased with the completion of the project and its early finish. The reconstruction, from U.S. Highway 40 to the bridge over Dry Creek, was originally scheduled for completion Sunday.

He said few residents had complained since the project began in early September. Martin said the design also didn't force the town to acquire any additional right-of-way. He added that the town didn't need to use contingency funding for the project.

"Honestly, it was one of the quickest and smoothest projects I've been involved with," Martin said.

Toby Keeton, construction manger for Native Excavating, the Steamboat Springs contractor that won the $958,000 project bid, attributed Poplar's early opening to favorable weather and the crew's desire to beat poor weather.

Martin said the project was identified because there was a storm water drainage issue near the entrance to the Routt County Fairgrounds. During storms, he said, water would pool "like a big lake" that sometimes forced drivers into the opposite lane to avoid it.

"That will not happen now," he said.

Martin said new drains would flow into Dry Creek. A new culvert was installed as part of the project.

Richard "Festus" Hagins, Hayden School District transportation director, said he was glad the street work was completed. He said Poplar's closure affected the district's new bus routes, some of which had to be adjusted during the construction. All vehicle traffic was diverted to Third Street during the project.

Hagins said it also affected buses getting to the district's bus barn, accessible by Poplar and the alley that runs next to the parking lot of the district administration building on West Jefferson Avenue. He said the buses could maneuver into the alley, but it was dangerous, especially during busy mornings.

And Hagins said the project made walking to Hayden Valley Elementary School from the east side of town difficult, with the most direct route unusable.

Part of the project to widen Poplar included adding a six-foot sidewalk on the west side of the street that students could use to walk to the elementary school. The sidewalk is gravel and would be paved from U.S. 40 nearly to the school at the bridge over Dry Creek by summer, Martin said. He said the town would bid the project this year or early next year.

With the exception of $50,000 for preliminary engineering fees, the Poplar project was paid for with grants.

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