Prepare yourself for traffic delays
~ by Rick Langenberg ~
Will Teller County experience another construction/transportation curse, or just a solid pathway to a much improved main highway, or a little bit of both? And will the short-term pains for business operators and traffic delays for gamblers, area tourists and residents pay off for a much smoother future ride?
The answer to these questions and more could be determined in the next several months, as the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) begins a $10.4 million project, calling for major improvements along a 31-mile stretch of Hwy. 67, with work occurring on two main sections. The project begins this week and will continue throughout 2017.
The infrastructure enhancement is a resurfacing project and consists of paving, guardrail installation, bridge work, signage and striping at two key road areas. Estimated completion is planned for late 2017.
The most pivotal section involves the much-traveled route between Divide and Cripple Creek, with the work there including 18 miles of a “recycling process known as cold in-place where the milled asphalt is applied back to the roadway and then overlaid with 1.5 inches of asphalt. One-lane road closures will occur around the construction area with a pilot car system in place to assist with traffic flow.” No construction will occur between Fridays and Sundays to accommodate the heavy flow of gamblers and visitors who frequent the area during the weekends and for special events.
The second main section will occur on Hwy. 67 between Woodland Park and Westcreek and will include 13 miles of paving beginning at milepost 77.5, and heading north to Westcreek at milepost 91.7. Like the work occurring between Divide and Cripple Creek, one-lane road closures will occur around the construction area with a pilot car system in place to assist with traffic flow. For this section, no construction work will occur on Saturday and Sunday.
Business and city leaders have expressed mixed opinions about the project. No one is arguing about the need for the highway improvements, and some officials are elated about the infusion of significant CDOT funds into the area. But the idea of traffic delays and lane closures, especially along Hwy. 67 between Divide and Cripple Creek, is making some business and casino operators quite nervous.
The last time a major construction project occurred in southern Teller, when Bennett Avenue experienced a face-lift, the consequences were quite dire. Plus, casino owners still have lingering memories from the Waldo Canyon floods, resulting in frequent closures to Hwy. 24. Gaming and tourist revenue has historically plummeted during times of big construction projects and natural disasters in the region.
However, CDOT officials say the project proponents will work closely with the local communities to minimize the impacts.
“We understand that the project will impact visitors, residents, numerous businesses, and community interests,” said CDOT Project Engineer Randy Johnson. “Our goal is to work in conjunction with the surrounding communities to deliver a quality construction project, with minimal impacts.”
County and city officials have echoed similar sentiments. Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen, who serves on a variety of transportation committees, has cited the importance of the project and believes the impacts can be addressed. At a worst-case scenario, he estimates that motorists may have to endure a 15 to 20-minute wait. Still, he anticipates that motorists will use several alternative routes, such as Teller One and the Four Mile gravel road. “People can expect delays,” warned the commissioner, when the project was first announced last spring.
According to officials, the improvement work is definitely needed as these key thoroughfares haven’t experienced needed improvements for a lengthy period and have suffered from neglect. This marks the first time such a comprehensive road improvement project has occurred, encompassing an extensive, large area of Hwy. 67.
And with the failure of state lawmakers to craft a significant transportation plan to deal with ailing roads throughout Colorado, these types of main thoroughfare improvements, with this much money, may become as good as it gets for Teller County highways in the near future.
CDOT officials also say they are employing state-of-the-art technology that will minimize the impacts.
A unique feature of this project is the use of the cold in-place recycling (CIPR) method, according to CDOT. “It restores and reuses the existing material reducing the amount of outside material hauled to the site, and as its name implies, cold in-place requires minimal heating resulting in a decrease in the amount of energy required for the final product. This results in a significant cost savings and minimal amount of traffic disruption to motorists,” stated agency officials in a press release.
They also stressed the fact that no construction will occur on the weekends.
For updates on the project, check with:
Sign up for project updates by emailing: CO67OverlayProject@gmail.com
According to the most recent CDOT project updates, no major traffic delays are anticipated for this week associated with the Hwy. 67 work.