CDOT completes highway surface treatment  on US 160 Cortez to Mancos Hill

September 9, 2019 - Southwestern Colorado - Work included a short section of CO 145 and will provide safer conditions for drivers 

MONTEZUMA COUNTY The Colorado Department of Transportation and contractor United Companies of Grand Junction, CO, have completed a project that has provided surface treatments to US Highway 160 east of Cortez and to a short section of CO Highway 145. The project began in late May and was completed just before the Labor Day holiday weekend. The work was contracted to United Companies for $2.6 million.

As part of CDOT’s Whole System — Whole Safety initiative, the project will enhance safety for motorists by significantly improving the roadway’s surface condition and a newly striped highway offering better visibility for drivers. (Read more about the initiative below.)


The 22-miles of roadway improvements on US 160 stretched from mile point 40, near the junction with CO 145, to MP 61.85, at the top of Mancos Hill (the Montezuma/La Plata county line), including the ramps and bridge deck on the Mesa Verde interchange. The work zone on CO 145 began at MP 0, at the US 160 junction, and extended north to MP 1.34, to the end of the highway’s curb/gutter section. 

Surface treatments included the following:

  • CHIP SEAL: The chip seal process distributes small rocks over hot emulsified asphalt material, then rolled to create a thin paved surface. A final protective sealant or fog is applied. A chip seal application protects and prolongs the surface of a roadway and is a cost-effective method used for renewing the road surface and sealing minor cracks and other imperfections. CDOT chose a smaller rock chip (⅜”-) than the regular sized chip (½”-) to provide a smoother surface for the bicycling community.

  • MICRO-SURFACING: Micro-surfacing is a thin, strong layer of asphalt emulsion blended with finely crushed stone and cement. This application will be done in certain sections (near the Sleeping Ute Mountain Rest Area and east of Mancos) to test its viability as a maintenance surface treatment along with the combination of the chip seal. This process provides a double armor of thin surface treatments and will be monitored over the next few years by CDOT staff for performance and durability.

  • ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS: Several alternative chip seal treatments along ¼ mile test sections were applied on this project to test the viability of varying oil shot rates and chip sizes of which will be monitored over the next few years by CDOT staff for performance and durability.

  • INLAID PAVEMENT MARKINGS: Inlaying will occur prior to the chip seal application. After the chip seal and fog have been applied, pavement markings (crosswalks, arrows, stop bars and other symbols) will be placed into the previously ground/inlaid locations. 

  • NEW STRIPING: Highway striping was painted on the new surfaces of the highway for all lane lines. The center yellow line and stripes is four inches wide, while the outer white lines near the shoulder are a wider six inches providing a higher illumination and brighter stripe, especially when drivers are traveling at night.

  • NEW LEFT-TURN POCKET INCREASES SAFETY: The project ultimately made one additional safety upgrade. Through striping changes, the contractor created a new eastbound LEFT-TURN lane onto northbound Montezuma County Road 34, near mile point 48, west of Mesa Verde. Eastbound motorists now have a turn pocket in which to wait for a safe break in traffic before making a left-hand turn across the westbound lane. The striping change has eliminated the westbound right-turn lane and acceleration lane into and out of MC 34.

Left-turn lane and striping changes that have now been made at CR 34, about a mile and a half from the Mesa Verde National Park exit.

Enhanced roadway surface and striping through Mancos.


Earlier this year, CDOT announced its Whole System — Whole Safety initiative to heighten safety awareness. This initiative takes a systematic, statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behaviors, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving the safety of all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission—to get everyone home safely.


CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated inter-regional express service. Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s inter-modal mobility options.