Huge Highway Improvement Project Slated to Begin Next Week

Motorists must exhibit patience for several months

~ by Rick Langenberg ~

Gamblers, tourists, ATV-buffs and locals may only have another few days or so before they need to exercise a quality sometimes lacking among Teller motorists: patience

The clock is ticking before residents should start consider using alternative routes to access Teller’s top gambling and entertainment hub and other recreation spots, and even try certain secret shortcuts locally.

In fact, the summer and fall of 2017 could go down as the year of the orange cone zone and occasional traffic delays. So in essence, chill out when traveling in Teller County.

Last week, local government and state officials confirmed that the big $10.4 million Hwy. 67 paving and enhancement project will start within the next week. The big impacted section, the 18-mile stretch between Divide and Cripple Creek, will get underway July 24 with regular work between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The project on Hwy. 67 North, between Woodland Park and Westcreek, will occur simultaneously, with no construction planned on the weekends.  

Initial projections call for occasional traffic delays of between 15 to 20-minutes, with traffic reduced to one-lane along certain identified sections. No paving-related construction on the highway between Divide and Cripple Creek will occur from Friday through Sunday; and on the other stretch on Saturdayand Sunday. The highway enhancement project will continue through 2017. 

“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.”

To date, officials say they have not experienced that many concerns or pre-construction complaints. But based on previous historic trends, most concerns don’t mount until the actual construction delays develop.  

Teller County Commissioner Norm Steen is optimistic about the success of the project, and says state authorities have been good about communicating with the media, elected officials and business community regarding prospective delays. Every week, CDOT releases traffic updates describing the project’s scope and potential delays. Plus, electronic signage is highly visible throughout the county. 

For the coming week, state officials are planning on doing some shoulder work and surveying. No traffic delays have been announced.

Steen expects motorist to use certain alternative routes, such as Teller 61, known as the Four Mile Road. That offers a good shortcut between the main switchback areas on Hwy. 67 South, but it is a gravel road and poses some difficult grades. The commissioner said the state has agreed to help out with maintenance, since usage of this route will increase.

Most local officials have accepted the project with open arms. Some business leaders and residents, though, have questioned the need for the additional paving.

Regardless, the entire project calls for $10.4 million worth of improvements, more than Teller has received for any single thoroughfare.

That’s not the only improvement project occur this year.

Work has already occurred on a stretch of Teller One, just outside Cripple Creek, calling for a several million-dollar package for infrastructure enhancements, sidewalks, trail extensions, road and intersection improvements and more This project, mostly funded by the state, has been under consideration for a number of years.

City Administrator Ray DuBois doesn’t expect the work to cause substantial delays. But occasional traffic delays of 10 to 15 minutes could occur, noted the city administrator. Like most officials, he believes the final product will definitely be worth the occasional short-term pains.

And in Woodland Park, the new pro-pedestrian Hawk lighting system downtown, established to make Hwy. 24 crossings easier, and to possibly slow down traffic, has generated a diverse range of opinions. Officials definitely got their wish, as the HAWK signals have forced cars to crawl through town at certain times.

But again, side routes can help motorists avoid the jams.