Teller County unveils road improvement program

Teller homeowners should notice plenty of work this summer and fall across the county’s limited assortment of paved roadways, in the form of maintenance overlays, pothole repairs and patch-up enhancements.

In addition, don’t be surprised when you drive across piles of road base material and less than smooth surfaces in your subdivision as part of preliminary ditching operations. And once again, the county will move full speed ahead with its aggressive chip and seal program, with another 9.8 miles of rural roadway expected to be targeted. In addition, the final touches will occur in the historic renovation of Gold Camp Tunnel Nine, including the development of an interpretive kiosk.

But with a leaner stuff, the Teller road and bridge crews must achieve a lot more with fewer people and rely on more multi-use equipment, aimed at achieving a variety of tasks. Plus, the unseasonably dry weather has provided dusty, rough obstacles, accentuated by what some locals describe as “washboards from Hell.”

These are some of the highlights of Teller’s 2011 road improvement and maintenance plan, which has kicked into high gear. The plan received the green light last week by the Teller County Commissioners, who expressed much satisfaction with what Teller crews can achieve with a limited staff. “We are stretched pretty thin,” concluded Brad Shaw, operations supervisor for the transportation department.

Unlike last year, the main focus in 2011 will center on road improvements along paved areas. “Our primary emphasis will be maintenance overlays, shouldering, patching and pothole repairs on our hard surfaced road system,” said Shaw. “Our operational employees will be organized to beef up the hard surface maintenance crews, when needed for maintenance overlays and shouldering operations.”

Shaw explained that the transportation agency has tried to alternate from concentrating on gravel roads and paved thoroughfares. Last year became known as the year of the gravel road.

In 2011, Teller crews plan to switch priorities and focus more on addressing hard surfaced roads that have experienced quite a beating, especially during the winter. But at the same time, crews will perform their usual grading cycles, aimed at grappling with 491 miles of gravel roads and tackling more than 70 subdivisions.

Here are some of the details of the 2011 plan:

*Conduct regular grading of local subdivisions, with six dedicated routes and crews that cover 70 miles each. In addition, crews will address related problems they notice along these routes

*Perform 31 miles of dust suppression work through the course of the year, a task that will encompass 54 roads. This dust suppression is applied to any Teller road that generates a traffic count exceeding 300 vehicles a day.

*Do a considerable amount of drainage work and address problems associated with more than 2,000 known culverts in the county. Also, educate homeowners in cleaning out their driveway culverts, as this will help the overall road system.

*Apply $800,000 worth of chip and seal applications to 9.8 miles of roadway in a variety of locations. Some of these include Teller 28, 51 and 231, along with Robinhood Drive, Longbow Drive, Blackfoot Trail, Chippewa Trail, Sunshine Circle and Main Street. “It is time,” said Shaw, in describing the need for these roads to receive additional attention. Plus, the resurfacing of several roadways, such as Circle Street (from Hwy. 24 to 2nd Street) and 2nd Street (from Circle Street to Mesa Drive), has been added to the hot list.

*Continue the gaming grant-related paving work of key roads accessed by casino employees and gamblers. This paving will target another 4.2 miles of Teller Eleven (between the intersection of Teller One and Teller 112). This project will feature the removal and replacement of areas of failing sub-grade, asphalt, culvert improvements and additional road surface treatment.

*Finish the Gold Camp Tunnel Nine restoration project, with the last phase involving replacing the timber frame supports of the historic tunnel, upgrading the ceiling and adding an interpretative kiosk. This structure, which is on the national state and county registers for historic places, reigns as Colorado’s last timber framed railroad tunnel that still is used for vehicular traffic.

*Upgrade all street signs

*Do regular patching, pothole repair and shoulder work along hard surfaced roads throughout the year, with special attention on segments that present safety hazards. In the summer, the main focus will be on overlays and repairs, with the winter work consisting of crack-sealing and snow and ice removal.

Shaw also emphasized that the current snow plowing policy, which allows crews much more flexibility in handling storms, will continue. He believes the county’s snow plowing has received good reviews, since major policy changes were made about five years ago.

During last week’s meeting, the operations supervisor also showcased some of the agency’s more elaborate equipment, such as special plow trucks, road drags, rollers and all-wheel-drive graders that give the department more flexibility in what it can accomplish. This special multi-use equipment is important, as the agency now only has 27 employees to do a variety of assignments, such as subdivision grading, ditch, bridge and culvert repairs, erosion control, road reconstruction, plowing, paving and a considerable amount of preventive work,

Commission chairman Jim Ignatius lauded the agency’s track record and stated that they accomplish quite a bit with limited resources. “It doesn’t go very far,” said Ignatius, when referring to the department’s annual $3.5 million budget.

Ignatius also believes the department has made much progress in paving more roads and dealing with problem areas. “The list is getting very short,” said Ignatius.