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Which roads to get facelift?

By Emery Cowan Herald staff writer

The warm temperatures and long days of summer are here, and that means seasonal road construction projects are revving up.

In the coming months, expect orange traffic cones to pop up alongside the usual summer mix of tour buses, bikers and camera-toting tourists as La Plata County and the Colorado Department of Transportation take to fixing up the roads around the region.

The city of Durango also will be repairing its roads, but likely wonít start construction until fall, said Sherri Dugdale, assistant to the city manager. The city has budgeted nearly $1 million for capital improvement road projects this year and is about to begin assessing which roads most need repairs, Dugdale said.

Here is a list of the biggest road-improvement projects planned for county roads and state highways in La Plata County and on Red Mountain Pass:

U.S. Highway 160 road improvements

Project: Reconfigures passing lanes on U.S. Highway 160 between the Montezuma/La Plata County line and Wildcat Canyon to make two eastbound passing lane sections and two westbound passing lane sections instead of one long eastbound passing lane. Also replaces rumble strips in the center line and installs epoxy striping along the 18-mile stretch of highway.

Cost: $450,000

Timing: Early May through late June

Travel impacts: Single-lane closures in each direction during weekdays.

U.S. Highway 550/160 intersection reconfiguration

Project: Construction of a continuous flow intersection that channels left-turning traffic to cross over at a signal before the main intersection of U.S. highways 550 and 160 by the DoubleTree Hotel. The work includes median improvements and the addition of bike lanes, designated bike boxes and additional lane markings for cyclists.

Cost: $3.2 million

Timing: July through December

Travel impacts: Construction will happen during daylight hours Monday through Friday with single-lane closures in all directions. Lane closures will be avoided during peak travel times and directions.

Lightner Creek bridge

Project: Replacement of a 40-foot bridge on Lightner Creek Road (County Road 207). The new precast concrete bridge will have bike lanes and pedestrian rails.

Cost: $650,000, with $578,000 paid for by a federal Special Highway Committee Bridge Grant.

Timing: April 22 through Sept. 6.

Travel impacts: Traffic will be routed through a two-lane detour while work is in progress. Delays of up to 20 minutes should be anticipated, with efforts to minimize traffic delays during peak morning and afternoon commuting hours.

Oxford intersection

Project: Realignment of County Road 311 with County Road 513 on the north side of Colorado Highway 172. The project will add full turn and acceleration lanes to the intersection.

Cost: $2.4 million with the entire cost covered by an $1.8 million Colorado Department of Transportation Hazard Elimination Grant and a $600,000 Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance grant.

Timing: Fall 2013 through Fall 2014

Travel impacts: Minimal, as most of the work this year would focus on irrigation and utilities.

Wildcat Canyon

Project: Reconstruction of about three miles of Wildcat Canyon (County Road 141) between Shenandoah subdivision and County Road 136. Existing asphalt will be milled with the underlying road base and combined with cement to create a hard surface, which will then be paved.

Cost: $1.6 million. The county received a $350,000 Energy Impact Grant to cover part of the projectís cost. The county was expecting to receive $500,000 in grant money for the project, so the Board of County Commissioners will have to re-evaluate whether to approve additional funding or reduce the scope of construction.

Timing: Mid-summer through fall

Travel impacts: Single-lane closure on County Road 141 with delays limited to 10 minutes.

County Road 320

Project: Reconstruction of 1,420 feet of County Road 320 to urban standards, including curb, gutter and sidewalk in order to accommodate increased traffic when the new Ignacio Intermediate School is completed. The road will then be annexed by the town of Ignacio.

Cost: $1.6 million, which will be split three ways among Ignacio School District, the town of Ignacio and La Plata County.

Timing: June through August

Travel impacts: Project managers may consider a temporary road closure as school will be out for summer and there is access to the north and south of the proposed project.

Resurfacing of U.S. Highway 550 from Silverton to Ouray

PROJECT: Chip-seal resurfacing on U.S. Highway 550 from Silverton to Ouray. The chip seal is a maintenance measure that helps extend the life of a highway.

COST: About $800,000

Contractor: United Companies

TIMING: Early June to early July

TRAVEL IMPACTS: Construction will happen on weekdays, and drivers should anticipate single-lane, alternating traffic with delays dependent on summer traffic lines.

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