In addition to the routine, county road and bridge eyes busy year

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This snow plow was doing routine snow removal work last week on County Road 4, also known as Mesa Road. Besides routine maintenance, the Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge Department has several major projects on tap for the year.
This snow plow was doing routine snow removal work last week on County Road 4, also known as Mesa Road. Besides routine maintenance, the Rio Blanco County Road and Bridge Department has several major projects on tap for the year.
RBC I Each year, Rio Blanco County staff members identify priority road and bridge projects for the coming year, and, officials say, the county road system will receive a new bridge, asphalt overlays, drainage improvements, a wildlife crossing and intersection improvements during 2014.
A deficient drainage structure at mile post 19.2 on County Road 5, which also serves as a livestock and wildlife crossing, will be upgraded. The new structure will improve drainage, allow wildlife to cross at a major migration point and continue to serve as a livestock crossing.
The concrete box culvert, along with the wildlife fencing that extends approximately a quarter-mile from each corner of the structure, will help channel animals safely under the road. This system will help decrease wildlife-vehicle collisions along this deer migration route and will be funded through the county’s Federal Mineral Lease Funds and a CDOT enhancement grant.
“Our department worked closely with the Colorado State Division of Parks and Wildlife to develop this mutual plan to reduce wildlife mortalities and property damage,” said Dave Morlan, director of the Rio Blanco County Road & Bridge Department. “We are looking forward to beginning the project this spring.”
Pending funding approval by the Federal Lands Access Program, a full-movement intersection at County Road 5 and County Road 3 will be constructed.
The project will add acceleration and deceleration lanes and improve sight distance on a blind corner. A deficient drainage structure will also be replaced with a concrete box culvert.
“If we receive the funding, we will begin the improvements on County Road 5 this spring,” Morlan said. “The intersection of CR5 and CR 3 is close to a blind corner, so the acceleration/deceleration lanes will increase safety.”
The CR 10 bridge, also known as the Stillwater Bridge, on the road to South Fork Campground and the White River National Forest, will be replaced this summer. The current bridge is structurally deficient, as determined by Colorado State Bridge Inspectors.
In 2012, the bridge was rated at 49.5 out of a possible 100, a cause of concern for county officials, Morlan said. The existing bridge will remain in service while the new bridge is being built on the downstream side. Construction will last two to three months and bring the bridge into compliance with the requirements of the Colorado State Off-Road Bridge System.
The bridge across the White River off CR 8 at mile post 12.9, locally known as “the Purple Bridge,” is also structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. Engineering and design work will be completed in 2014 and construction is planned for 2015.
“Both bridge projects are funded through a 20 percent county match and 80 percent State Bridge Grant funds,” Morlan said.
Asphalt paving will improve CR 72, the Wray Gulch Landfill Road, which is currently a gravel surface. The pavement will provide smoother, safer travel to this facility 1.5 miles off State Highway 64. Quicker, more-efficient snow removal and reduced maintenance requirements are the objectives for this improvement.
CR 1, the Blue Mountain Road, will receive a nine-mile asphalt overlay to the Moffat County line. This route links State Highway 64 with U.S. Hwy. 40 and is a vital access to oil and gas activity north of Rangely. The road is due for an overlay because of rutting, roughness and poor drainage.
These are only a few highlights of the road improvement projects the department will undertake in 2014, Morlan said.
“Throughout the year, county road crews are busy repairing and maintaining the 900-plus miles of county roads,” he said. “Of course the most important job facing the department is road emergencies, keeping roads safe as they respond to snow and ice in the winter and mudslides and washouts the rest of the year.”
The major spring and summer maintenance projects are done to extend the life of road surfaces and to make driving safer and smoother.
Some of the jobs scheduled are: application of a magnesium chloride blend for dust control and surface binder to 103 miles of gravel roads in April and May; in July, 24 miles of paved roads in the Rangely District will be chip sealed. The department’s objective is to chip seal all paved roads every five to nine years to save money on overlays; and crack sealing 40 miles in early spring will be done to prevent water from penetrating pavement, and, in August, pavement striping will be done on about 114 miles to make night driving safer.
To maintain a sufficient supply of gravel, crushing is planned at a pit in the Rangely area.
“We do our best to ensure the county road system is as safe and smooth as possible with the funding we receive,” Morlan said. “Road staff work hard to leverage local taxes with grants to maximize the work we do.
“Input is always welcome because we work for the citizens of Rio Blanco County and everyone using roads in our county,” he said.
The public can call 878-9590 with any questions for the Rio Blanco County Road & Bridge Department, Morlan said.