Silverthorne purchases Burger King property as a part of a multiyear plan to ease traffic congestion around I-70 exit

The town of Silverthorne just closed on the purchase of a building on Stephens Way which was formerly a Burger King. The purchase is just the first step in what could be a decade-long construction plan to ease the burden of traffic in Silverthorne.

Town officials said the plan should take 10 years and possibly less if everything falls in line. Town Manager Ryan Hyland said they have already enjoyed a streak of good luck. 

The luck Hyland is referring to began when three adjacent properties near Stephens Way — Burger KingPizza Hut and Arby’s — went out of business, becoming available for new uses. The properties are near Exit 205 on Interstate 70, one of the most congested traffic areas in Summit County.

With the town’s Master Plan mandating transportation improvements in that area, specifically related to the I-70 corridor and the infamously busy exit, the town quickly purchased two of the properties. 

Silverthorne bought the former Burger King property for just over $2.6 million and the old Pizza Hut for a little more than $2.1 million. The town also has an agreement with the owners of the former Arby’s ensuring the property’s owners will redevelop in a way that works with the town’s transportation improvement plan.

The plan, which was drafted in 2020, specifically calls for the widening of Stephens Way, which runs from U.S. Highway 6 south of I-70 to Wildernest Road just north of the interstate. 

Town staff said they could not believe the luck that presented them the opportunity to begin tackling the road widening years earlier than anticipated.  

“If you’d asked me a couple of years ago what are the odds of three adjacent fast food restaurants, all going out of business in the same timeframe, and presenting an opportunity to control traffic issues, I would have said there’s around a zero percent chance,” Hyland said. 

Hyland said construction related to traffic improvements could be finalized within the next 10 years, and maybe sooner. In the meantime, the town has agreed to lease the former Pizza Hut property to Cafe Food Rescue, a local nonprofit, to operate out of. 

The sellers of the former Arby’s property are working with the town on redeveloping the property in a way that allows for the planned road reconfiguration. The town has also been in talks with organizations such as police and Summit Fire EMS about leasing the locations for training. 

Another aspect that fell perfectly into place was the timing of a Colorado Department of Transportation study focusing on the area, said Hyland. 

CDOT is expected to have results early 2024 for its I-70 Silverthorne/Dillon Interchange stud that launched in 2020. With the study largely focused on Exit 205 in Silverthorne, it should help inform Silverthorne’s plans for transportation improvement. 

“This came together perfectly because it will inform how we might want to redesign where that road intersects with the highway,” Hyland said. 

CDOT statistics from 2020 show that approximately 51,000 cars pass through State Highway 9, U.S. Highway 6 and the I- 70 corridor each day. The Wildernest Road/Rainbow Drive area sees an average 21,000 vehicles a day, according to CDOT. 

Developing a project to mitigate traffic near Exit 205 has been in talks for decades. Yet, projects slated to happen around 2014 fell through and have not been followed up on

Hyland said the project is still in its infancy and there is no estimated price, it will just be “expensive.”

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