SH 9 Colorado River South Wildlife & Safety Improvements
State Highway (SH) 9 is a major traffic route between Kremmling and Silverthorne in Summit and Grand counties. Although the highway runs through many other counties, the narrow stretch of highway between mile marker (MM) 126 and 137, near the Green Mountain Dam Road and Colorado River Crossing, has been the site of numerous wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC). The narrow roadway bisects feeding and watering habitat frequently used by wildlife. In addition, several human fatalities have occurred as well.
In an effort to mitigate future WVCs and to save human and animal lives, a partnership among the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Grand County, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Blue Valley Ranch was forged. Thanks to this unique partnership, CDOT will be completing the design for safety improvements, including wildlife mitigation features, on this highway.
Safety improvements to be made to the stretch of roadway between MM 126 (at the north edge of Summit County) and MM 137 (just south of Kremmling) include minor widening (adding eight foot shoulders), improving roadway alignment to bring up to current design standards, straightening severe roadway curves, flattening steep hills to improve drivers’ sight distance, making access and intersection improvements, and implementing wildlife mitigation features such as fencing, underpasses and overpasses to allow wildlife to migrate and to reduce collisions.
The project is currently in the design phase (as of summer 2014). Advertisement of the work planned for the fall of 2014 with some minor work items (utilities) possibly getting underway in late 2014. Then, the major construction would be divided into multiple seasons, starting in the spring/summer of 2015, with a winter shutdown, then resuming in the spring/summer of 2016. Some final work may be completed in the spring of 2017 depending on weather conditions. (Exact work dates will be identified at a later date, and in coordination with project partners.)
The total cost to make the safety improvements on this corridor is estimated to be approximately $46-50 million. In December 2012, the CDOT Transportation Commission approved $450,000 in funding for right-of-way (ROW) acquisition for the project. On October 17, 2013, the State Transportation Commission selected SH 9 for $RAMP* funding to fast track the safety-improvement project (*see RAMP press release at left for details on public-private partnership funding).