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Construction Progressing Well on First Wildlife Underpass on US 160 Between Durango and Bayfield

August 12, 2015 - PROJECT UPDATE - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - Additional travel impacts this week for detour work.

LA PLATA COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation began a project in July to construct a wildlife underpass at US 160 at Dry Creek, about five miles east of the junction with SH 172 (between MM 97 and MM 98). The contractor for the $6.5 million project is Crossfire LLC, and the work is expected to be completed by May 2016, following a winter suspension.

The project constructs a large mammal underpass—a pre-cast concrete arch structure with a natural earth bottom. This arch span bridge will be and 37 feet wide and 13 feet high/tall. Crews will construct a paved, two-lane detour on which two lanes of traffic will travel during construction of the first half of the underpass; two lanes of traffic will then be switched onto the existing alignment while the other half of the arch span bridge is under construction.

Once construction is complete, the detour alignment will be fenced off but will remain in place to accommodate future widening from two to four lanes, as called for in the US 160 Environmental Impact Statement or EIS. The roadway above the underpass will remain a single lane in each direction with widened 10-foot shoulders. Crews will install some 10,700 linear feet of wildlife fencing and eight wildlife escape ramps.

This underpass is the first of 24 large-mammal crossings recommended in the US 160 EIS between Durango and Bayfield. In addition, small mammal crossings are recommended every 1,000 feet. Wildlife features were identified in the EIS in coordination with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

UPDATED! PROJECT IMPACTS/INFORMATION:  Work will be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day, though much of it will be accomplished off the highway and with the use of the detour. Currently, the detour is in need of repairs to accommodate the amount of traffic it has been experiencing. Thursday and Friday, August 13th and 14th, US 160 will go to a one-lane alternating road at mile point 96.90 and will end at mile point 97.40. The one-lane configuration will begin at 9 a.m. and could possibly go into the early evening commute. All efforts are being done to open the road back to two-lane operations by 5 p.m. Aside from this brief repair work, daily lane closures are not anticipated until the end of the project, when the new alignment is tied to the existing. Once construction gets underway, the speed limit will be reduced to 40 mph during work hours. For more information or to ask questions, please contact the contractor’s public information line at (970) 828-2897.

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