CDOT works on Rabbit Ears Pass, receives millions for road repairs following harsh winter |

CDOT works on Rabbit Ears Pass, receives millions for road repairs following harsh winter

A Colorado Department of Transportation plow truck clears snow on U.S Highway 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass in November 2022. This winter, plow drivers drove over a million miles more than usual and roads have seen more damage. The state has given CDOT an additional $45 million for snow and ice removal and repairs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

U.S. Highway 40 east of Steamboat Springs over Rabbit Ears Pass is in the midst of repairs from serious water damage. 

Water was coming up in the middle of the road, causing potholes and rough surfaces. The Colorado Department of Transportation has already fixed much of the damage and was just allotted more funding to continue making repairs on the roadway.  

“When water comes up through cracks in the middle of the highway, the road subbase material gets soft, and the asphalt starts moving and breaks apart,” said Elise Thatcher, communications manager for CDOT. “With these conditions, a large pothole can form almost overnight. This is a common problem on Rabbit Ears Pass but has been happening more this year due to the considerable winter and spring moisture.”

Crews already repaired issues around mile point 140 on the west side of the pass and mile point 153 on the east side. Not all the damage has been fixed, however, and the spots that have been repaired will still need work once warmer weather settles into the area. 

“This time of year, the asphalt we use is a cold-mix asphalt product,” Thatcher said. “When the hot asphalt vendors are up and running for the season, and as the weather warms, crews will complete more permanent asphalt repairs with hot-mix asphalt.”

Earlier in the month, CDOT was given an additional $45 million from the state to go toward snow and ice removal for the remainder of the winter and pavement problems from the especially harsh season. 

About $25 million will go to “critical pavement conditions” across the state. Locations are still being identified by maintenance and engineering teams. 

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Nearly $20 million will go toward snow and ice control, which is in addition to the $84 million base budget for those operations and the $12 million reserve fund, which was exhausted this winter. 

“CDOT has taken on one of the harshest winters in memory, and I want to thank the men and women who logged nearly a million miles more than they usually do in our plows to keep roads clear. As we see the winter season through to its end, we are looking to quickly address road surface quality, whether it be potholes or more severe damage sustained over the winter,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew in an April 20 news release.

The winter, which was the second snowiest in Steamboat history, has resulted in “unusual damage” along U.S. 40, according to the release. Similar damage can be seen on I-70 as well, including recently repaved portions near Vail Pass. 

Staff will update the Transportation Commission at future meetings about details of projects and roads that will receive the funding.

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