CDOT ready to begin work

South Broadway work to run into December

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Sleeping Ute Mountain Motel owner Gene Baxstrom checks out the plans for south Broadway with Craig Glazier, the project engineer.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$ Enlargephoto

Journal/Sam Green

$PHOTOCREDIT_ON$Sleeping Ute Mountain Motel owner Gene Baxstrom checks out the plans for south Broadway with Craig Glazier, the project engineer.$PHOTOCREDIT_OFF$

The U.S. 160/491 South Broadway Reconstruction Project beginning July 9 will bring in a lot of improvements once finished and a lot of community frustration while underway.

Construction work between McElmo Road to the U.S. 160/491 intersection is expected to bring bumper to bumper traffic for the $4.8 million project, scheduled to be completed by Dec. 15.

CDOT resident engineer Michael Coggins said the department and Lawson Construction will be working 24 hours a day seven days a week because they want to be sure the project is completed before the end of the year.

The first part of the project will take place on Seventh Street with the hope this portion will be completed by the time school starts in mid-August.

This part of the project will include milling the existing asphalt, drainage work and paving intersections one fourth of a lane at a time.

Once the work on Seventh Street is completed, there will be easier access to businesses than they currently have, Coggins said.

Speaking during an open house Thursday night, Coggins admitted there are a lot of unknowns that could cause the project to be pushed back past the Dec. 15 completion date, including finding utility lines, contaminated soil and leaking gas tanks.

“If we find them we are obligated to fix them,” he said, adding this would take time away from the project.

While Thursday night was CDOT’s last open house for this project, Coggins asked the community to stay in contact and to call with any questions or concerns.

The work includes adding signalization, striping and signage to clearly guide and direct motorists, and will also provide a continuous and controlled movement of traffic through the intersection on westbound U.S. 160 and northbound U.S. 491.

Kevin Curry, CDOT design engineer, said the yield sign at the intersection of Highway 160/491 will be replaced with a temporary signal.

He also said the rules of the road are a law enforcement issue, and added during construction an off duty police officer will be employed to discourage any activity that could negatively impact the project.

Coggins said traffic on Highway 160 is expected to be single file bumper to bumper with a center turn slot for those wanting to turn left into businesses and especially for emergency vehicles.

Signs will also be placed around town to show residents how to gain access to businesses, and Coggins said what might be an access to a business one day could be changed the next day.

He said the locals will likely know how to get around town by using side streets instead of Highway 160, so the traffic impact to residents could be minimal.

“I want to have the best project that will serve Cortez for the next 40 years,” he said.

Coggins also added that the plan is to do as much work possible in the summer months when the weather is warmer as opposed to the colder months.

He also urged motorists to not text and drive and to pay attention to the signs put up to tell drivers how to get to locations.

Coggins also said he anticipates 30 to 40 people being in Cortez while he project is underway, and added this number will increase once paving begins.

“We recognize that we will get in your way,” he said.

Craig Glazier, the consultant engineer for the project, said they want the public relations aspect to run smoothly with the community and wants to address all concerns and questions that come to them.

Coggins also said the field office will be stationed at the Johnson Building and asked people to come by to tell them how they are doing.

Reach Michael Maresh at