Steamboat Springs One of the county's gravel pits will undergo future expansion to supply county projects with gravel for another two decades.
Routt County Commissioners on Tuesday approved the expansion of the Funk Gravel Pit.
The gravel pit, which sits along U.S. 40 east of Hayden, will increase from 9.9 acres to 47.6 acres.
Routt County has sole access to the Funk Gravel Pit, thereby limiting the gravel pit's scope and impact.
The county holds a special-use permit to mine the pit and pays the landowner royalties on the land.
The county saves a substantial amount of money by mining its own gravel instead of purchasing commercial gravel, said Paul Draper, director of the county's Road and Bridge Department.
The county now spends about $400,000 annually on gravel, compared to a $72,000 price tag in 1995.
That means it's important the county be able to cut costs by mining its own gravel pits, Draper said.
The county pays the landowner $4.50 per yard of gravel it takes from the Funk Gravel Pit.
Although it is measured by the ton, commercial gravel would equate to about $9.25 per yard, he said.
Gravel mined by the county remains a critical part of the county's road maintenance program, County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.
"It's a lot cheaper than buying it commercially," she said.
The three-phase expansion will disturb no more than 13.5 acres at a time.
Nine residences sit within a half-mile of the expanded pit, but mine operations will not be visible to those residences until the third phase of the expansion.
The natural ridge that will screen the first two phases of mining from U.S. 40 will be removed during the third phase.
A landowner asked that the ridge be removed to allow more practical space for ranching.
The proposed mine expansion comprises an area that is currently used to raise alfalfa.
Mining began on the site in the late 1950s.
County commissioners approved the first special-use permit for 6.1 acres in 1979.
The county anticipates the Funk Gravel Pit will provide gravel for 19 years based on current use.
County planner John Eastman said a larger portion of the expansion would not be mined but instead would be used to store the overburdened materials and topsoil that will be used in reclamation.
Mining operations will occur on only 15.29 acres of the expansion.