US 160 Wolf Creek Pass West Safety Improvement Update

July 6, 2011 - PROJECT UPDATE - Another crash reminds drivers to slow down on curves; Colorado State Patrol present at work zone, fines doubled for speeding.

ARCHULETA COUNTY – A July 5 semi-truck crash on Wolf Creek Pass underscores the need to slow down over the mountain pass, particularly through the cone zone at the truck escape ramps on the west side (accident reports are pending, though the semi was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crashed.) There have now been eight traffic incidents involving commercial vehicles/heavy trucks on US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass in 2011 thus far. The Colorado Department of Transportation is using federal Hazard Elimination System (HES) funds in hopes of reducing these incidents.

Work began in April 2011 and involves the installation of enhanced warning signs (some larger, some dynamic) and improvements to the lower of two truck ramps, including a straighter entrance, new surface and drainage, a pull-out area, new concrete barrier at the ramp and at the scenic overlook curve, and a catchment system near the pass’s overlook area to mitigate environmental spills in the event of a semi roll-over.

PROGRESS TO DATE: Crews have been working on an upsized concrete barrier at the scenic overlook curve, below the west-side scenic overlook (a portion of this barrier will need to be replaced after the recent semi crash). Crews are also installing concrete pavement and gravel bed on downhill side of the scenic overlook curve, and have installed the oil-water separator and a grouted “slope drain” at the site (please see project phases, below).

The project is being conducted in phases, and is scheduled for completion in late fall 2011.

PHASE I: (underway) Crews will install four large permanent signs to warn trucks of steep grades and excessive speeds on the pass.  All four icon signs will include LED lights to enhance the warning message. Two of these icon signs will be equipped with sensors to detect large speeding trucks and flash a “REDUCE SPEED” warning to truck drivers.

PHASE II (underway) Reconstructing of the overlook barrier wall, installing a new gravel bed attenuator (to reduce crash impact) and signing; installing a HAZMAT catchment basin that will separate oil and water in case of fuel spills; curb ramps and fence repair at the overlook.

PHASE III: Rebuilding the lower truck ramp (nearest to the overlook) with new gravel, a drainage system and concrete barriers; realigning and extending the approach lane 1,200 feet to improve the design speed of the ramp for runaway vehicles; adding an area near the approach lane for trucks to stop and cool brakes; and constructing second HAZMAT catchment basin.

The project was contracted to American Civil Constructors of Littleton for $2.7 million, using the federal HES funds.

TRAVEL IMPACTS – Throughout the majority of the project, there will be restrictions on oversize vehicles for westbound US 160 as well as a short single-lane closure of the eastbound uphill climbing lane in the work zone (west of the summit between mile points 160 and 161).  The uphill climbing lane closure for Phase I and Phase II will occur Monday through Friday, during daylight hours (there will be no lane closures outside of daylight hours). The lane closure during Phase III will remain in place 24/7.  Some weekend work may be necessary in order to complete the project by late fall 2011. Uniformed Traffic Control by the Colorado State Patrol will be in place to help maintain safety through the work zones. Double fines for speeding through the work zone will be strictly enforced. CDOT and ACC thank motorists for going Slow for the Cone Zone!

For information about other CDOT projects, log on to or call 511 from anywhere in the state. Or, the public (and media) can sign up for FREE wireless/e-mail updates on projects or highways in any area of choice. Log onto and choose the green phone icon in the upper right-hand corner.