by Rick Langenberg:
Teller residents won’t face too many orange cone zones and construction delays this summer and fall, in the form of major paving and revamping work on county roads.
Instead, the brunt of 2013 local transportation projects will deal with grappling with nearly 500 miles of gravel thoroughfares, repairing a multitude of culverts and battling dust. And in some cases, county crews can help homeowners in rural subdivisions in improving their traveling situation by applying more dust suppression material on certain road sections and assisting them with culvert-related consulting advice. That was the theme of the county’s annual road improvement plan, which received the thumbs-up by last week by the Teller County Commissioners. “I am very pleased,” said Commission Vice-Chairman Norm Steen, in describing the plan and agency’s track record.
He gave the county’s road and bridge crews an A-plus grade in the way they have interacted with the public. Similar sentiments were echoed by Chairman Dave Paul. Paul stated that he receives many calls about the state of Teller’s roads, but the vast majority of these comments are positive. According to transportation supervisor Brad Shaw, this year’s plan, similar to previous efforts, will concentrate heavily on road maintenance with crews sticking to a strict schedule of handling six routes of 37 miles each, with no deviation unless an emergency occurs. As a result, he vowed that residents should see more grading activity this year. He described the use of designated grading routes as a big success, compared to previous years.
Still, Shaw conceded that the rough, gravel surface of Teller roadways ranks as the premiere complaint of Teller residents. “It is always the road surface,” said Shaw, when describing the topic of the far majority of approximately 200 call-ins the agency receives a year. “Gravel roads are tough to maintain,” admitted Shaw. That said, he believes the agency has made inroads in improving the quality of many of these roads that make the grading process easier.
Later in the meeting, former county attorney Newman McAllister chimed in and quipped that many Teller residents who move into the area initially view gravel roads as “romantic and pastoral.” But after a little time he in the high county, he noted that their main question then becomes, “When are you are you going to pave my road?” McAllister, Teller’s main attorney throughout much of the 1980s, commented how road issues still dominate the county’s radar. Unfortunately, the county’s financial situation and the competition for grant dollars limit the ability to pave that many roads. In fact, current statistics indicate that gravel surfaces are still the main source of Teller roadways, with only 72 miles consisting of paved thoroughfares in the unincorporated sections of the county.
As for other challenging problems for the agency this year, Shaw cited drainage and culverts as associated issues that plague the county crews and make life more difficult for rural subdivision homeowners. He noted that the county has to deal with 2,500 cross culverts along its roadways. And when it comes to dust suppression, he said some homeowners have even contacted the county about purchasing additional material to assist their neighborhoods. If the county does the complete dust suppression work, it costs about $3,870 per mile, according to Shaw. He said county crews also meet with homeowners to give them advice on plugged culverts.
The county’s road improvement plan calls for the dust suppression work on nearly 50 roads, at a cost of nearly $250,000. “That is an unfunded mandate,” said Shaw. Current environmental rules require dust suppression material to be applied on gravel roads that receive more than 300 vehicles a day of traffic. This year’s plan doesn’t feature that many high dollar infrastructure projects regarding huge paving and road reconstruction efforts.
Some of the plan highlights include:
*Resurfacing work on parts of Teller 21, Deer Mountain, Whitetail Lane, Obsidian Drive and Crystal Peak, totaling 2.4 miles
*Applying dust suppression material to sections of 48 gravel roads in the county, totaling nearly 30 miles.
*Re-grading of all ditches damaged from winter maintenance operations, clearing out culverts and installing rock checks. In addition, drainage improvements are scheduled for Summer Haven Drive.
*Reconstructing Teller One from the Cripple Creek city limits to Anges Drive. This project will involve replacing damaged guardrail and posts, shaping of ditches and back slope, replacing culverts and installing new surface treatment. It will feature some traffic delays, but one lane of traffic will always remain open.
*Continuing to work and improve Teller’s lineup of 10 bridges, which date back to 1930, in compliance with national standards.
*Pursing the current snow removal policies that attempt to maintain all roads within 24 hours after a storm has stopped.
*Meeting with homeowner groups to assess problem areas.