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La Plata County to repave County Road 501, delay work on Country Road 301

Freeze-thaw cycle has done significant damage to asphalt

La Plata County Public Works is postponing a project to pave County Road 301 slated for this year in favor of addressing deteriorating conditions on County Road 501.

The department hopes to repave up to 3 miles of the north end of County Road 501, near Vallecito Reservoir.

At the Board of County Commissioners discussion time Wednesday, Public Works Director Jim Davis floated the idea of reappropriating the $1.5 million in the budget earmarked for the County Road 301 work and directing it toward addressing County Road 501.

The conditions on County Road 501 have deteriorated faster than expected as a result of cold temperatures and high moisture levels this winter, Davis told commissioners. The repetitious freeze-thaw cycle has done a number on asphalt.

The county is likely to redirect road and bridge money to repave a northern section of County Road 501, which has been severely impacted by cold temperatures and a moist winter. (Courtesy of La Plata County)
Cold temperatures and moisture have resulted in significant damage to the asphalt on County Road 501 south of Vallecito Reservoir, which must be addressed relatively quickly. (Courtesy of La Plata County)

Although County Road 301 will remain topped with gravel for the time being, it can be graded and temporarily improved, unlike County Road 501.

“You’ve got to maintain what you have,” Davis said. “If we let this go another year or two or a little bit longer and we get some more severe weather like this, we could end up turning that paved road into a gravel road. The pavement can totally disintegrate.”

There are several ways the department could to go about repaving the road, including tearing up all the existing concrete or just removing the top layer. Either way, Davis said, the road will receive a new travel surface.

He said the project on County Road 301 would be considered for the 2024 budget cycle, although it remains uncertain when it might receive funding.

“The damage on 501 is pretty nasty – that required full repair,” said county spokesman Ted Holteen.

The BoCC must formally approve the reappropriation before the money can be redirected. Holteen said the board is likely to approve the request at its next business meeting, scheduled for March 28.


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