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CDOT plans work on area roads

Donna Gray
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Colorado Department of Transportation rolled out its summer plans for area road improvement projects to the Garfield County commissioners Monday.

Also discussed was CDOT’s 25-year plan for Region 3, which covers 14 counties in western Colorado.

Weldon Allen, transportation director of CDOT’s Region 3, said the department has set aside $93.9 million for road improvements. But when you consider that’s got to last for 25 years, “That doesn’t build much and surely doesn’t design anything,” he said.



Further, the financially strapped agency will see a steady decrease in funding over the next few years. Region 3 is set to receive $3.9 million in 2008. That will be cut considerably the following year, with a road budget of $1.7 million.

County Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who has been active with the Interstate 70 Central Mountain Transportation Corridor Coalition, which has recommended extensive improvements above what CDOT plans for I-70 fixes over the next 20 years, said the agency has not taken some fast-growing towns in the county into consideration.



“The dilemma with (the planning) process, with the county changing so rapidly, Parachute and Rifle are not even on the radar,” she said. “It’s important to figure out how to get money to those areas that are being highly impacted by growth.”

Included in a 25-year plan for Region 3 are two competing high priority projects that have come under fire locally.

A bridge that would link Midland Avenue and Four Mile Road to Highway 82 is identified as a top priority by CDOT. Glenwood Springs has received $6.2 million in federal funds obtained by U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Manassa, for the project. Cost estimates for the project have run as high as $20 million.

County Commissioner John Martin has been a vocal opponent of the “earmark” funding, saying it would take away from other needed projects, namely improving the bottom of Tennessee Pass, which is also considered high priority by CDOT.

“Earmarks totally disrupt the process,” said Doug Aden, chairman of the state transportation commission, who also spoke to the county commissioners Monday.

Despite the funding squeeze, CDOT has a host of road improvement projects slated for this summer. Beginning in July CDOT will reconfigure driving lanes on the Highway 133 bridge that crosses the Roaring Fork River at Carbondale, which has become a nightmare of congestion over the years. Four lanes will be designed with more downvalley left turn lanes, said CDOT program engineer Joe Elsen.

Crack repair in the Hanging Lake Tunnel will also continue. “That’s expected to be done by late fall,” he said.

I-70 through Glenwood Canyon will get a new concrete surface. Elsen said the job is expected to be completed by July 4.

CDOT will also replace metal panels in the No Name Tunnels east of Glenwood Springs.

Parachute, which has seen traffic problems skyrocket because of the booming oil and gas industry, will get some attention. Elsen said CDOT will design changes to the I-70 interchange to better handle the flow of traffic. No funding has been set aside for that project, but Elsen said he hopes money can be found to make it happen.


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