Summer paving project planned on U.S. 40 between Steamboat, Rabbit Ears Pass |

Summer paving project planned on U.S. 40 between Steamboat, Rabbit Ears Pass

Tom Ross

Steamboat motorists face a second straight summer of construction delays on U.S. Highway 40 in 2018, this time on the southside of town to the west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was U.S. Highway 40 on the west side of Steamboat Springs where motorists experienced construction delays in 2017, and now this summer, it will be the south side of town that endures slowdowns, and in some cases, a single lane of alternating traffic while 12 miles of asphalt surface is repaired.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has released details on a $6.4 million construction project that will involve road repairs and repaving on a stretch of U.S. 40 from the Walton Creek Road intersection on the east side of town to the west summit of Rabbit Ears Pass. The project is scheduled to begin April 30 and will continue into October.

The milling and paving operation alone will account for $3.2 million of the project’s overall cost.

“Usually these projects have a lifetime of 20 years,” CDOT spokesperson Tracy Truelove said Monday.

During the heart of the construction work, motorists will experience one lane of alternating traffic with CDOT estimating 5- to 45-minute delays with the highest impact taking place June 13 to July 17 during milling and paving work. The speed limit will be 35 miles per hour.

When the work reaches Rabbit Ears Pass, construction crews will maintain one lane of traffic in each direction with estimated delays of 5 to 15 minutes.

According to Truelove, the daily traffic count over Rabbit Ears Pass is 4,200.

Truelove said her agency will consider recommending detours only when they can be accomplished on state or U.S. highways, for example using Colorado Highway 131 to Oak Creek or Colorado Highway 134 over Gore Pass to avoid construction on Rabbit Ears. 

The asphalt removal is projected to begin June 13 and continue through July 26, with the re-paving following about a week behind and extending into October.

Schedule includes work stoppage for holidays, special events

The construction work will take place 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the heart of the summer tourism season in Steamboat, when visitors typically come over Rabbit Ears Pass to begin a vacation. However, CDOT has already announced reduced  7 a.m.-to-noon workdays on Fridays beginning in June.

There will be no work scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays, Truelove said, except in the case of emergencies and when necessary near the end of the season.

CDOT’s schedule also calls for work stoppages May 25 to 28 for the Memorial Day holiday, June 13 for the Ride the Rockies cycling event, June 29 to July 9 for Fourth of July, July 21 for the Tour de Steamboat cycling event and Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 for the Labor Day holiday.

The general contractor is United Companies of Grand Junction, the same contractor that persevered through record May rainfall in 2015 to complete the resurfacing of the 10,000-foot runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1.

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