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What road construction projects can drivers expect this spring in Southwest Colorado?

Camino del Rio work resumes this week; other highway improvements also planned
Pedestrians and a cyclist cross Camino del Rio at the 12th Street crossing Tuesday as construction crews return to work on new crossing lights after breaking for winter. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Springtime in Southwest Colorado can mean hiking, biking and rafting. But for the Colorado Department of Transportation, it is the beginning of road construction season.

“CDOT realizes that construction season can cause some heartburn for local communities, and we hope that they can see the end result, and we appreciate their patience,” said CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes.

Beginning this week, CDOT is picking up where it left off in December on its Camino del Rio improvement project. The $5.4 million project that placed medians along the Town Plaza area of Camino del Rio last fall will finish up by placing a flashing HAWK beacon across 12th Street.

Work on Camino del Rio over the next month and a half will replace the current 12th Street pedestrian crossing, placing electrical wires underground and putting signals on poles. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

The current HAWK signal uses a wire system above the street. In the next four to six weeks, construction crews will place wiring underground and new poles to hold the flashing pedestrian signals on either side of the street.

Workers will be out on Camino del Rio from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until the project is finished. On Thursday, crews will perform night work from 8 p.m. to midnight.

“It’ll involve some lane closures that night at the 12th Street pedestrian crossing for the new poles and masthead,” Schwantes said. “Traffic will be allowed through, and motorists should only encounter a 10- to 15-minute delay.”

A Morton Electric Inc. construction crew digs a trench Tuesday to place wiring underground for the new 12th Street pedestrian crossing lights on Camino del Rio. (Jerry McBride)

The flashing red light on the HAWK signal should be treated like a stop sign, a solid red should be treated like any other red light and a flashing yellow means slow down.

Drivers should be aware of intermittent lane closures and lane shifts northbound and southbound through the corridor and at the Ninth Street and 12th Street intersections on Camino del Rio.

“The crews will try to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible,” Schwantes said. “We really encourage folks to utilize the zipper merge, which means using both lanes all the way up to the lane closure point and taking turns.”

Colorado Department of Transportation’s construction season has begun, with crews resuming work on Camino del Rio after breaking for the winter. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Schwantes said concerns about the added medians making it difficult to plow Camino del Rio were squashed this winter as plows had no problems clearing the road.

As work on Camino del Rio begins to wrap up, crews will begin work on a new pedestrian crossing on north Main Avenue between 29th and 30th streets, at the bus stop near Bird’s restaurant.

“We really do need a safe crossing for pedestrians and cyclists crossing north Main Avenue there,” Schwantes said. “There’s a fairly long stretch of roadway that does not have a light. With more restaurants popping up and the hotels along that corridor we have people that are trying to cross the highway, and we’re really trying to make it safer for them.”

The pedestrian crossing on north Main Avenue will cost $350,000 and is expected to take construction crews through mid-July to complete. Schwantes said the crossing will be similar to the pedestrian crossing on Camino del Rio and Seventh Street, near the Commons Building.

Another big project CDOT will be back to work on this summer is the $98.6 million realignment of U.S. Highway 550 just south of Durango city limits. The project involves constructing a new 1.1 mile, four-lane section of Highway 550 north of County Road 220 to connect with the existing U.S. Highway 160 interchange and widening a 3.3-mile section of Highway 550 south of County Road 220 to four lanes, tying into the County Road 302 intersection.

Improvements will continue at the intersection of Colorado Highway 172 and Ute Highway (County Road 318). The $1.5 million project will include road widening, median construction, lighting installation and pavement markings.

CDOT will do a $2 million re-striping project in La Plata and Alamosa counties this summer, replacing the pavement markings on concrete road surfaces in Durango and Alamosa.

On College Drive between East Third Avenue and East Eighth Avenue in Durango, CDOT will work on trolley stop and road efficiency improvements. Additional improvements include new sidewalks, Americans with Disabilities Act ramps and median refuges for pedestrians. The project is budgeted to cost $1.2 million and is expected to begin this summer and last through fall.

Work will continue on the Highway 160 wildlife crossing near the Colorado Highway 151 intersection, just east of Chimney Rock. The $11 million project will complete both a wildlife overpass and a wildlife underpass at the start of summer.

“Impact there will be minimal because most of the work is taking place off the roadway where we’re doing work on the elk overpass,” Schwantes said.

A $7.9 million fiber-optic installation on Wolf Creek Pass from milepost 145 to milepost 170 is slated to begin this summer. The project will install about 20,000 linear feet of fiber-optic cable, install a speed warning system on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass and put in a new variable message sign on the west side. In addition, six variable speed limit signs and seven poles with cameras and weather monitoring stations will be installed.

In Montezuma County, a resurfacing project will take place on Highway 160 from the Four Corners to Aztec Creek. The $18 million project will start this spring and finish in summer.

Schwantes said compared with last year’s construction season, this year should be a respite for the traveling public, especially in Durango.

“Durango residents and visitors to the region will get to see the benefits of past construction and improvement projects that we’ve been able to address,” Schwantes said.


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