There's no good way to drive around Elkhead Reservoir, so construction crews are going to build a road through it during an expansion project.
The Colorado River Water District plans to begin draining the reservoir east of Craig this fall, in preparation for expansion construction. The expansion project will increase the reservoir by 12,000 acre- feet.
Moffat County Road 28 across Elkhead's dam will have to be closed in the spring while construction crews raise the height of the dam, Colorado River Water District engineer Dan Birch told the Moffat County commissioners at a meeting Tuesday.
But C.R. 28 is the route most homeowners east of the reservoir take to get to Craig. Alternative routes would require drivers to travel 20 miles on poor roads around the reservoir or drive toward Hayden.
To provide easy access to Craig for these homeowners, Birch said the river district plans to construct a road across the drained reservoir at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars.
"This looks right. It looks like you guys have this under hand," Commissioner Darryl Steele said.
The new road will be built on an old road bed that existed before the reservoir was built. The east side of the road still leads to the reservoir's edge, and parts of the road bed still appear on aerial photographs.
Birch said that the new road should have a minimal effect on travel time for residents east of the reservoir.
The commissioners asked Birch to follow the county's process for temporary road vacations. The Moffat County Planning Commission will hold meetings later this fall to hear public comment on the proposed closure.
Because the road in question crosses the Moffat-Routt County line, the details of winter maintenance must be worked out between the counties.
But Bill Mack, Road and Bridge director, thought that Moffat County would plow the portion of the road that crosses the drained reservoir, while Routt County plows the unclosed portion of C.R. 28 east of the reservoir.
The county has had some problems with Elkhead's dam, but Mack said raising the dam's height should change that.
C.R. 29 on the west side of the reservoir also should see some changes, Birch said.
Construction crews will install a 6-foot high culvert near Greenwood Cove where C.R. 29 will cross the expanded water storage. The crew also will widen a sharp curve in the road near the cove.
Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com.