Traffic damaging roads

Energy industry vehicles are using Moffat County Road 57 to get from oil fields in Wyoming to fields in Colorado, and the added interstate traffic is damaging the road, Moffat County officials say.

During a meeting with state highway officials last week, Moffat County Commissioner Darryl Steele asked that the state take over maintenance of C.R. 57.

But state officials were cool to the idea of taking over the 24-mile stretch of road that runs from near Maybell to the Rio Blanco County line.

At the county line, the road becomes Rio Blanco County Road 7.

Energy industry vehicles use the road as a short cut from drilling sites in southern Wyoming to sites in Garfield County, Steele said.

"It is the shortest route from Rock Springs, (Wyo.) to Rifle," Steele said.

Rock Springs and Rifle are hotbeds of natural gas production.

More vehicles

The Moffat County Road and Bridge Department tracks traffic on the road, and the number of energy-industry vehicles is on the rise, Road and Bridge Director Bill Mack said.

More trucks on the road means more wear and tear, Mack said.

Most county roads serve traffic from one side of the county to the other, not interstate traffic, Mack said.

"(C.R. 57) is a little unique," Mack said.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is not taking over any new roads because of budget constraints, spokeswoman Stacey Stegman said.

"We're not just going to take on something and bear the cost," Stegman said.

Fair trade?

The department regularly takes over roads from cities and counties, but the state usually trades a state highway to the municipalities to balance it out, Stegman said.

The county offered to take Colorado Highway 394, which runs south of Craig, from the state in exchange for C.R. 57. But, Mack said, any possible trade is still in the preliminary stages.

Colo. 394 is shorter than C.R. 57, so the state would be taking on additional mileage if a trade is worked out.

But, Stegman said, the roads don't necessarily have to be equal lengths for the state to work out a trade.

"It is definitely negotiable," she said.

The state would have to take C.R. 7 if it takes C.R. 57, Stegman said. For snow removal and maintenance, the state could not stop at the county line, she said.

If the county and the state work out a deal for C.R. 57, it would be a first for Moffat County.

County road crews trade maintenance with the state, but they have never traded a road, Mack said.

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