A horizontal format shows a roundabout sign to the left.

County supports New Castle entryway project

Grants $250,000 to town for landscaping enhancements at proposed CDOT roundabout

February 29, 2024

Garfield County has granted $250,000 from its general fund to the Town of New Castle toward a planned roundabout project at its Interstate 70 exchange. New Castle is in the process of upgrading the “entryway” to town, where I-70 meets with Castle Valley Boulevard and U.S. Highway 6, including the roundabout and adjacent landscaping.

According to a proposal by the Town of New Castle, the project is part of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) 10-year plan to address traffic safety concerns, future growth, and make updates to pedestrian, utility, and stormwater infrastructure. The town has entered into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with CDOT and has committed $500,000 into the estimated overall $7 million construction cost.

“This intersection is critical to the movement of traffic in New Castle as residents make the transition from local residential areas to the I-70 environment,” the proposal reads.

Dave Reynolds, New Castle town administrator, told the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) that the interchange is vital to all travelers passing through town and that entryway enhancements are a separate cost to the CDOT roundabout project.

“It’s going to become a roundabout, so there are big changes coming,” he said. “It serves New Castle, and everybody trying to get on the I-70 corridor must pass through that intersection. It serves the county … and it also serves visitors. Tons of tourists, hunters, campers, come through trying to get up on the Flat Tops, and over to Harvey Gap and Rifle Gap. It’s no secret that it’s a well-traveled area.”

New Castle is collecting funds to offset the price tag of the entryway, including wayfinding signage, irrigation, lighting, and landscaping enhancements, which are estimated to cost the town roughly $1.15 million. Design cost for these upgrades is estimated at $42,000.

“That’s a tough nut for New Castle to crack alone,” Reynolds added.

Construction is slated to begin in early March, and possibly be completed by late November. New Castle Public Works Director John Wenzel told the board that potential design elements include large boulders representing the Grand Hogback ridge, and a bronze statue of an 1880s coal miner holding a gas lantern and looking back toward the site of the Vulcan Mine, which experienced three explosions between 1896 and 1918, claiming the lives of 85 miners.

The town had requested $500,000 from the county; $250,000 was approved and New Castle staff was encouraged to pursue the other $250,000 in a grant request to the Federal Mineral Lease District (FMLD) and told to perhaps make another request in 2025 to the county if more funding was needed. Future funding always depends on resources available and yet to be determined stresses on a future year’s budget and no commitments can be made until then.

“That way it’s easier on our pocketbook and our reserves and we can budget for it into the future,” added Commissioner John Martin.

The board approved the grant unanimously, 3-0.