Jefferson County expects to have a conceptual design by the end of September for widening and improving Highway 73 between Buffalo Park Road and Plettner Lane in Evergreen.

The design will widen a half-mile of the road to include a center left-turn lane, a southbound bike lane on the west side and a shared-use path on the east side. It will also provide four parking lots: angled parking across from the church, parallel parking in front of the church, angle parking across from Evergreen Fire/Rescue Station 1 and parallel parking south of the Highway 73/74 intersection.

The intersection of Highway 73 and Little Cub Creek Road also will be improved.

The county has federal funding for the project, with construction expected to start in the summer of 2022 and taking about a year to complete.

The design’s sticking point is whether to keep a traffic light or construct a roundabout at the corner of Highway 73 and Buffalo Park Road, according to Steve Durian, Jeffco’s transportation and engineering director. 

While the roundabout is safer, it is more expensive, so the county would need to find additional funds if it goes that route, Durian said. The public was asked for comments on the initial proposal in July and August, and more than 100 people responded, and they were evenly split on the stoplight versus a roundabout.

Once the conceptual designs are complete, the public will have another chance to comment.

The work on Highway 73 will begin about the time the work is expected to end on an Evergreen Park & Recreation District project to build a two-tiered trail on the north side of Evergreen Lake.

The county has done a lot of work to improve Highway 73 in the past year, adding turn lanes along the road from Evergreen to Conifer and installing curbs north of Marshdale to help with drainage. Durian said while all of the work has been done to improve the road, there are no plans to widen it to four lanes.

Durian has said the underlying reason for improving the highway is to better facilitate evacuations in an emergency, with the Elephant Butte Fire being a prime example. People were evacuated from Buffalo Park Road, and Highway 73 should be able to accommodate more cars.

“(Highway 73) is a major connector between Conifer and Evergreen,” Durian said. “It’s really one of the important inter-town connections. What we have learned is … we need to have better road capacity.”