NEWS

CDOT sets project schedules

Date: Jul. 24th, 2007
Phone: 000.000.0000 Ext. 0000

BY DUFFY HAYES
July 24, 2007

SUMMIT COUNTY - A phalanx of CDOT engineers and officials, along with top leaders from a number of local municipalities, crowded into the Mount Royal Room at the County Commons near Frisco on Tuesday for the group's quarterly update of local road projects.

A series of CDOT-led initiatives are scheduled for this construction season or next, and county commissioners were eager to hear CDOT's plans for the number of anticipated local projects, as well as updates on other projects impacting the crucial Interstate 70 corridor.

CDOT project engineer Brian Pinkerton systematically updated commissioners about five area projects on CDOT's immediate agenda, starting with the long-sought widening of Highway 9 between Frisco and Breckenridge, specifically in the Farmer's Korner area. Once a project slated for this construction season, Pinkerton explained that CDOT received just two bids from contractors, forcing a push-back to next summer.

At least three bids are required, so CDOT will re-advertise the project for bid in October - a time when contractors' schedules are more flexible as they plan out projects for the coming year, officials said.

To make the project more attractive, CDOT will reconsider the phasing schedule, and should have all of the utilities removed from the project area by next year, said CDOT's Ina Zisman.

Zisman also said that a proposed landscaped noise barrier near the Farmer's Grove housing development will still be a part of next year's project.

Repaving I-70

I-70 near Silverthorne has seen its share of cone zones this summer, as CDOT works to repave the eastbound lanes of the interstate west of the Eisenhower Tunnel. CDOT reported that they've begun night paving of the middle lane, a job that will continue for about two more weeks.

The entire paving project will continue into October, Pinkerton said, but he added that "delays have been pretty minimal so far."  Next summer, CDOT will tackle the same stretch of westbound lanes.

Safety improvements over Loveland Pass

Pinkerton told commissioners that the safety improvements CDOT has been working on along Highway 6 over Loveland Pass were "almost done."

CDOT Region 1 director Jeff Kullman explained that the genesis of this project was to find a way to contain potential hazmat spills, as big rigs with hazardous materials are compelled to negotiate the steep turns and curvy switchbacks of Loveland Pass rather than travel through the Eisenhower Tunnel. Kullman said CDOT quickly decided that addressing issues associated with three sharp curves in particular would be their best strategy - in essence, stopping a rollover before it happens.

New rumble strips have been installed in select stretches, and assistant county manager Thad Noll said that cyclists have already reported a safer ride over the pass.

Tunnel maintenance, Straight Creek sediment control

Officials working at the Eisenhower Tunnel reported that they were finishing up an electrical and powerline project, and that they continue to replace problematic wall panels inside the tunnel.

"It costs quite a bit of money on a continuing basis" to maintain operations at the 35-year-old tunnel, Kullman noted.

In nearby Straight Creek, CDOT officials said that along the upper reaches, where erosion has been an issue, erosion and sediment control projects are almost done. They'll continue to work "down the mountain" moving forward, officials said.

"I believe what you guys are doing up there is working," Commissioner Tom Long said.

Chain-up area improvement

As a result of new legislation that puts extra teeth into the state's chain law, CDOT agreed to do some major improvements to chain-up areas across the state. Different stages of the project are being advertised for bid at different times, but Kullman was confident that truckers would see a big difference by next year.

"Everything we promised to everybody will be done by next Nov. 1," Kullman predicted.

Future major projects, especially along I-70

As a sort of look to the immediate future, Kullman presented a list of potential projects CDOT was considering, as more than $200 million becomes available early next year.

Directing the conversation toward the "capacity"-themed projects on the list, Kullman solicited feedback about which projects were preferred.

With Breckenridge town manager Tim Gagen and assistant county manager Thad Noll contributing, both active in the multi-member I-70 Coalition, a project to widen the "Twin Tunnels" near Idaho Springs garnered the most attention.

Also on Kullman's list was a potential project to improve the Silverthorne interchange with I-70, six-laning the stretch of interstate through the area. That project was also supported, prioritized just below the proposed Twin Tunnels project.

Key local projects

  • Widening SH9 between Frisco and Breckenridge - Work slated to begin next summer.
  • I-70 paving near Silverthorne - Work will continue into October
  • US 6 over Loveland Pass - Safety improvements almost completed
  • Straight Creek sediment control - Upper reaches done; lower section of project set for design phase

Duffy Hayes can be reached at (970) 668-4621 or at dhayes@summitdaily.com.