Highway 40 construction a drag for Craig commuters | CraigDailyPress.com

Highway 40 construction a drag for Craig commuters

Christina M. Currie

As soon as Shauna Klimper pulls up to the flagger holding a stop sign, she turns off her car and gets ready to wait.

“I always seem to hit it just right,” she said. “Either I make it at the end of the line, or I am the first to wait 20 minutes.”

The construction along U.S. Highway 40 makes the commute longer for Craig residents, like Klimper, who work in Hayden or Steamboat Springs. Her travel time from home to Seneca Coal Company has doubled, adding a half-hour to her trip.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so hot, and we had air conditioning,” she said. “It’s frustrating sometimes, but everybody’s got to do their job.”

Crews have been working to resurface a portion of U.S. 40 between Craig and Hayden since June 20.

Colorado Department of Transportation officials say delays of five to 10 minutes should be expected, but many are finding they’re stuck longer.

There are few complaints though.

“People have been real understanding and cooperative,” said Debbie McLain, project engineer with CDOT. “We’ve been really lucky. That’s one thing about living in this part of the country — people are a lot nicer than they are in Denver.”

About 14 miles of highway are being resurfaced in a job costing the state a little more than $1 million. Construction started west of Yampa River bridge and will continue to the east side of Craig. McClain said baring catastrophe or acts of nature, the job should be complete Aug. 15.

CDOT is using a process called heater rescarification to upgrade the road. Basically, about one-inch of the existing asphalt is pulled from the road, heated and ground up. Then a rejuvenating agent is added and the mix is re-laid on the road.

“So its actually rejuvenating the old asphalt,” said Candice Lukow, CDOT maintenance superintendent in Craig.

The rescarification process should be complete by Monday. There will be no construction for two weeks as the asphalt cures, McLain said, then the chip-and-seal process will begin.

“That’s when people start calling to complain,” McLain said. “Fortunately it’s a pretty quick process, but we do have to let the chips embed five to seven days before we can put on the final coat.”

The biggest problem with chip-and-sealing is the potential for cracked or broken windshields.

Speeds will be limited to 35 mph during the day and 45 mph at night. CDOT has hired off-duty state patrol officers to keep people within the speed limits.

“We’re not trying to target people,” McLain said. “To keep down the number of broken windshields, that’s our objective.”

Construction also is continuing on the second phase of safety improvements on Colorado Highway 13 south of Meeker. The three-mile highway reconstruction work started about three miles south of the junction with U.S. Highway 6 and extends south to mile marker 33.5.

Work began in November and resumed in May, after stopping for the winter. The project, which was awarded to Kirkland Construction for $4.1 million, includes minor widening — adding 8-foot paved shoulders to the two-lane highway. The entire stretch will also be resurfaced. Other safety improvements include adjustments to the vertical and horizontal alignment to improve sight distance for motorists.

The highway surface has been removed and, currently, motorists will encounter a rough road surface and a reduced speed limit. Motorists can expect up to 10-minute delays with single-lane, alternating traffic during daylight hours, through the project’s completion in mid-September 2005.

The first phase of safety improvements along the Colo. 13 corridor included a three-mile stretch extending from Highway 64 south for three miles.

The Colorado Department of Transportation and contractor United Companies continue a resurfacing project on sections of Colo. 13 (including the Rifle Bypass) and U.S. 6, north and west of Rifle. The work, contracted to United for $2.2 million, involves recycling pavement and resurfacing the highways, expansion joint repairs, guardrail work, shoulder graveling and restriping.

During the work, which is scheduled to be complete by July 27, motorists will encounter up to 15-minute delays during construction. No weekend work is scheduled at this time.

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