CDOT plans major projects for Montezuma County

By Jim Mimiaga Journal staff writer

Get ready to slow down and dodge orange cones in 2014.

Several area highway projects are planned for this year by the Colorado Department of Transportation. A presentation was given to the Montezuma County commission this week.

In April, a 31-mile repaving project will begin on Highway 491 from the New Mexico border to Towaoc. Guardrail and bridge work will also be done on the stretch.

“The surface will be chewed up, and new pavement laid down,” said CDOT engineer Ed Archuleta.

Safety improvements will also be made at the T intersection of U.S. 160 — the road to the Four Corners Monument — and Highway 160/491.

Five additional light poles will be installed along with more flashing warning signs. Rumble strips will be put in to alert east bound vehicles approaching the intersection.

The changes were prompted by a recent accident with multiple fatalities that occurred after a speeding eastbound van missed the intersection at night and crashed.

Improvements will also be made at the intersection of Mike Wash Road, the entrance to Towaoc, and Highway 160/491, and continue to the reservation boundary near Woody’s gas station.

Preliminary planning is in the works for a passing lane(s) north of Woody’s because of a large CDOT right of way there, but how it will be arranged is still being studied. As part of the plan, CR 21 is being considered for a right-turn, exit-only to accommodate the proposed passing lane.

“We might see some push back on that one,” said commissioner Steve Chappell.

The road project from the New Mexico state line to the northern boundary of the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation is expected to cost $20 million.

“The improvements on that stretch of road are well-needed and well-appreciated,” said commissioner Keenan Ertel.

Also this year, CDOT will improve Highway 145 between Cortez and Dolores. The $8.5 million project will resurface the roadway, providing a leveling course to smooth the surface, patch in and correct more damaged areas and resurface the road with a 2-inch overlay of new asphalt. Work on the Dolores River bridge will also be done.

Commissioner Chappell urged CDOT to continue the four-lane portion of Highway 145 from Cortez northward to CR M because of increased traffic in that area due to a nearby church and lumber store.

Other upcoming projects include:

In 2015, the dangerous, curving intersection of Highway 145 and County Road P (Milar’s Corner) is slated for a $1.7 million upgrade.

Acceleration and deceleration lanes are planned, as well as turn lanes for safer access on and off County Road P from Highway 145. Montezuma County is contributing $83,000 to the project.

A “shelf project” that has been designed but is not funded involves surface treatment on Highway 491 north of Cortez to Road M and squaring up the intersection with Lebanon Road.

Improvements for Highway 184 between the Skyline and Highway 491 are scheduled for 2017, although maintenance crews will be authorized to improve some sections earlier, depending on funding, according to CDOT.

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