CDOT Restripes US 160 West of Durango for Improved Safety through Passing Lanes

June 14, 2013 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - LA PLATA COUNTY – Motorists who travel often on US 160 between Durango and Mancos will notice the new passing lanes in both directions.

There was no pavement added, just a restriping project by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Restriping is complete and CDOT will be installing passing zone signs within the next week to complete the project.

For a contract amount of $405,000 to Elam Construction, CDOT was able to provide more passing opportunities for both directions of travel along this corridor, where the average daily traffic count is about 7,000 vehicles (doubling on busy summer days). Ultimately, the project has restriped the section from the top of Mancos Hill (mile point 65, at the county line) to Wildcat Canyon Road (MP 81.3) to become one with two passing zones in each direction.

Previously, the highway included a two-lane section for eastbound travel for approximately six miles between Mancos Hill and Hesperus Ski Area; there was no two-lane passing opportunity for westbound travel. CDOT investigated the accident history and driving habits of motorists along this corridor.

“We know this highway has both commuters, who are typically higher speed drivers, and tourists unfamiliar with the roadway, who are typically lower speed drivers,” CDOT Traffic and Safety Engineer Mike McVaugh said. “Based on our analysis, we determined we could create an alternating passing lane opportunity for both eastbound and westbound traffic. These types of operational changes provide a big cost-benefit—and in this case, a very big safety benefit as well.”

To help prevent head-on accidents and sideswipe accidents, CDOT has also installed center-line rumble strips and, at key locations along the corridor, has created painted median buffers between opposing directions of traffic.

The project wraps up next week as crews install the new passing zone signs along the corridor – no lane closures are anticipated for this sign work but motorists are encouraged to drive with caution with crews and vehicles on or near the shoulders. Thank you for going Slow for the Cone Zone!