Traffic between Craig and Steamboat to be routed over temporary bridge

— People commuting to work between Steamboat Springs and Craig or Hayden, as well as people leaving Steamboat to catch a flight at Yampa Valley Regional Airport this summer, might want to build another 10 minutes into their schedules.

The Colorado Department of Transportation and Duckels Construction are within a few days of detouring traffic on U.S. Highway 40 at the bridge over the east fork of the Elk River about 7 miles west of Steamboat onto a temporary bridge.

It’s expected the temporary bridge will be in use all summer and most of the fall during construction of a new bridge. Motorists can learn more about highway projects across the state here.

Duckels is in the midst of a $3.1 million project to replace the existing bridge over the river. That bridge was originally built in 1958 and is now deemed functionally obsolete, in part because it does not have sufficient shoulders. The demolition of the old bridge and construction of the new bridge is expected to last into November, CDOT spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said Wednesday.

According to a CDOT news release, crews will work on the project from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Mohr said motorists should not experience delays of more than 10 minutes as traffic in both directions slows for the detour.

“The speed limit there is 65 miles per hour, and we typically drop speed limits by 20 miles an hour for a detour like that,” Mohr said. “But we’ll watch it and see if it needs to be slower. We want to make sure people are safe and aren’t flying through the detour.”

CDOT was expecting to divert traffic onto the temporary bridge, which is adjacent to the old bridge on the upstream side, as soon as Tuesday. However, Lyn Halliday, who is serving as the public information officer on the project, told the Steamboat Today on Wednesday that the traffic detour will be delayed until later in the week in order to install another layer of asphalt and stripe the lanes.

According to CDOT, the new bridge will result in safety improvements including increased shoulder widths, improved sight distances, better roadway alignment, more room for snow storage and improved hydraulics in the river to help the bridge withstand future flooding.

Funding for the project is coming from the Colorado Bridge Enterprise, according to Mohr.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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