Construction crunch hurting rural roads |

Construction crunch hurting rural roads

Heavy vehicles servicing large development sites are wearing down three unpaved, rural roads in Pitkin County, officials say.

Numerous residents have complained about industrial vehicle access on Watson Divide, West Sopris and Woody Creek roads, saying the thoroughfares have deteriorated due to the increased traffic.

Officials have been forced to step up maintenance efforts and plan increased magnesium chloride treatment this summer. Mag chloride helps control dust and prevent potholes on gravel roads.

“One large, overloaded truck can have the same impact as nearly 3,000 cars,” said Brian Pettet, the county’s public works director. “We have 266 miles of roads in Pitkin County. We’re stretched right now because we are not geared up to baby-sit three roads.”

The roads are being used for three private development sites under construction, according to Pettet. Only one, the West Sopris development site, has provided help in maintaining its access road.

Watson Divide Road services the Watson Divide Ranch, including the construction of a 15,000-square-foot house. The county allowed the development in exchange for a 500-acre conservation easement on the property.

Construction vehicles are using Woody Creek Road for a Circle R Ranch project, which will see eight to nine units taking up a a total of 40,000 square feet.

West Sopris Road provides access to the Wexner property, which will include a house of approximately 15,000 square feet and a barn.

Pettet said there’s nothing county workers can do but wait until construction is over. None of the roads will be paved.

“There are no plans to pave Watson Divide or any other roads,” he said. “It’s just tough right now. These owners have a development right to construct. But it will pass, and we anticipate these roads returning to nice rural roads again.

“In the meantime it will be a challenge to provide a quality road surface.”

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

“One large, overloaded truck can have the same impact as nearly 3,000 cars.”

Ð Brian Pettet, county public works director

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