Inflation, high oil prices mean Routt County will pay $1.1 million extra for road work this summer |

Inflation, high oil prices mean Routt County will pay $1.1 million extra for road work this summer

A traffic control worker is surrounded by vehicles while directing traffic last summer on U.S. Highway 40 east of downtown Steamboat Springs as part of a chip seal project.
John F. Russell/ Steamboat Pilot & Today

Routt County will need to spend about $1.1 million more than budgeted to complete road maintenance planned for this summer, as the cost for some of the materials has increased by more than 40%.

The county initially planned to spend just over $2.4 million on 38 miles of chip seal work and eight miles of road overlay, but inflation and increased oil prices have pushed costs much higher.

Still, Routt County Budget Director Dan Strnad anticipated the county could collect as much as $9 million in revenue more than anticipated in this year’s budget, making the additional cost for road maintenance more palatable.

“We can afford to pay for this,” said Commissioner Tim Corrigan, a statement that Strnad quickly affirmed.

The county uses a pay-as-you-go budgeting system to upgrade roads and other capital expenses, planning out when roads will need to be replaced and putting money away ahead of time.

Routt County Public Works Director Mike Mordi said this year is a “perfect storm” of projects that need to be completed, with several roads needing their first or second chip seal treatment.

The county put off some of its planned road projects in 2020, as county officials slashed the budget at the onset of the pandemic, but Mordi said many of the projects scheduled this year need to be taken care of.

County roads with plans for maintenance this summer

Overlay projects

Routt County Road 14 Jack Creek to CR 16 (mm 2.4 – 3.5)

CR 129 – Hot Springs Creek to Big Creek (mm 4.85 – 7.1)

CR 42 – Maribou to Silver Spur

CR 78 – Fredrickson’s Hill

CR 187a – Radiator Road

Chip Seal

CR 14 – Colorado Highway 131 to CR 35

CR 27

CR 35 – CR 41 to CR 14

CR 129 – Hahn’s Peak Village to end of pavement

CR 53 – Hayden Divide end of pavement to Seneca Haul Road

CR 53 – Seneca Haul Road to Hayden city limits

CR 36 – Woods Dr and North Park

CR 80 – Hayden city limits past CR 76 to end of pavement

Commissioners are expected to accept the bids for the work next week, after which Mordi said he would have a better indication of when exactly these summer projects will happen.

“August, July is about seasonally when we do it,” Mordi said, adding these schedules have become less consistent of late. “Last year we started overlay in June, and I don’t think we chipped until September.”

Unlike last year, the Colorado Department of Transportation doesn’t anticipate any large projects on U.S. Highway 40 through Steamboat Springs, but there is a mill and overlay project on U.S. 40 through Craig that will start in the middle of May.

The project will resurface about 12 miles of road from mile marker 92 on the east side of Craig to mile marker 80 on the west side, according to Elise Thatcher, spokesperson for CDOT in Northwest Colorado. The project will also replace a stoplight on the corner of U.S. 40 and Green Street.

While there is work planned on parts of Interstate 70 this summer, Thatcher said none of it should force closing the road or require people to find an alternate route. That said, U.S. 40 through Steamboat will once again be the preferred alternate route for drivers if I-70 is forced to close for safety reasons.

The interstate closed briefly last week because of the Duck Pond Fire near Gypsm and was frequently closed last summer because of mudslides that damaged the roadway.

Thatcher said there are two alternate routes — one north and one south — and people should choose the one that works best for them depending on their destination.

“The best thing for people to do is to look at COTrip,” Thatcher said, referring to CDOT’s road update website. “That way in real time you can see what your best option is.”

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