The County Cubicle: Caution … road work ahead

Editor’s note: In an effort to keep residents informed on happenings within county government, county employees will contribute biweekly articles for “The County Cubicle.”
These articles may include responses to reader questions or expression of interest. Readers are encouraged to submit questions or suggestions to County Administrator Pat Hooker at 878-9436 or phooker@co.rio-blanco.co.us

The Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge Department, which oversees 912 miles of county roads, is in the midst of “construction season” and has many projects to accomplish before the snow flies. Here are the major projects the department will oversee this year:
The Federal Highway Administration mandates all traffic signs be replaced with new higher reflective surface signs by January 2015. Our traffic control supervisors have been systematically upgrading each road, prioritized by surface type and levels of traffic. Approximately 200 miles are now complete. Our goal is to complete an additional 50 miles this summer.
Each summer stockpiles of gravel materials, in the Meeker and Rangely districts, are replenished. This summer, a gravel crushing project is planned for the Bachmann (Wakara) Pit, in the Meeker area.
One hundred twenty-one miles of paved roads will be re-striped with new high visibility paint.
Bridge maintenance work, including abutment replacement, rip-rap, painting and lead-based paint abatement, is planned for bridges on County Roads 10, 12, 57 and 121.
The complex design and engineering work on RBC Road 5, Piceance Creek Road, continues. Funding for this project is provided through impact fees and grants, not from road and bridge funds. The first construction project is expected to start in the spring of 2011.
Placement of approximately 435,000 gallons of magnesium chloride (mag chloride) on 108 miles of gravel road has been completed. Mag chloride controls dust and binds and hardens the surface so that less maintenance is required.
Chip sealing is planned on 35 miles of County Roads 26, 7, 31 and 5 (16 miles) during July. The county chip seal program ensures that all 173 miles of paved roads are sealed every five years. Chip sealing protects and extends the life of the pavement, and costs much less than overlays.
Defining design specifications for two bridge projects, to be constructed in 2011, is under way. The bridge on County Road 27, East Douglas Road is 80 percent funded by an energy impact grant. The Stillwater Bridge on County Road 10 is 50 percent funded by a CDOT Special Bridge grant.
Road and bridge crews continue to respond to emergency road repairs and perform routine road maintenance activities, such as removing mud and rock slides, pothole repair, brush and tree removal, patching, road damage repair, culvert cleaning and replacement, guardrail and cattle-guard repairs and replacement and road grading.
Areas where crews are working are commonly referred to as “Cone Zones.” Road and bridge will advise travelers of road construction through “Cone Zone” reports placed in the newspaper throughout the summer.
Road and Bridge takes great pride in ensuring Rio Blanco County’s transportation system is as safe and well maintained, as funding allows. Suggestions or reports of problems are always appreciated. Road and bridge can be contacted at 878-9590 in Meeker and 878-9595 in Rangely.