Construction in full swing

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— Commuters aren't having too much trouble with traffic delays as construction on Colorado 131 swings into its third week.

The Colorado Department of Transportation started its six-year project of widening Colo. 131 on April 23.

The portion being worked on right now is a stretch that runs from U.S. 40 to the Yampa Bridge on County Road 18 at the Catamount Ranch entrance.

"We're making efforts to keep traffic going," said Tony Connell, area manager for Connell Resources Inc, the prime contractor for CDOT.

"We're allowed to have three 10-minute stoppages, but that's worst case. We're making every effort to keep those stoppages under 10 minutes," he said.

CDOT is expected to finish the four-and-a-half-mile stretch of road by October, and it is working on the design for the next six miles for next year.

Colo. 131 was targeted for improvement because of increased commuter traffic. The road is being widened from Steamboat Springs to Oak Creek and county commissioners expect it to take six years and use $17 million of state funds.

County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak commutes on Colo. 131 every day and confirmed the waits are not "that bad" and will benefit everyone in the end.

"Widening the highway and having paved shoulders will be great, especially for bikes," Stahoviak said.

Connell Resources said it hasn't received any complaints about traffic delays. In several places, traffic has been reduced to one way.

"So far we've been happy with the cooperation of the traveling public and appreciate them slowing down for the safety of workers and themselves," Connell said.

Connell said the construction crews are generally out at the site from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week.

"There will be times when we work past 5 p.m. to meet deadlines or take advantage of weather, but we try to be off the road by 5 to minimize commuter delays," Connell said.

Connell warned some of the worst delays are expected to happen during the next month as they deal with irrigation crossings that allow ranchers to get the water they need.

CDOT Project Engineer Van Pilaud also said a detour at McKinney Creek is being built because they have to tear out the wooden bridge that currently sits over the creek.

"By the 21st (of May) we'll switch traffic over," Pilaud said.

"The detour will be wider then what Highway 131 is right now. It will even have paved shoulders."

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