CDOT discusses annual plan

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Continued improvements to Colorado Highway 131, better ways to prevent vehicle-deer collisions and the possibility of a stoplight at the intersection of Colo. 131 and U.S. Highway 40: Those were a few of the issues touched on at the annual meeting between Routt County and the Colorado Department of Transportation on Tuesday.

During the meeting, CDOT representatives presented commissioners with a grim outlook on the department's budget and brought up a few projects specific to Routt County.

The next four-mile-long phase of reconstruction on Colo. 131 -- a project important to Routt County -- should begin this spring and is fully funded, said Rich Perske, program engineer.

Shrinking state funds make it difficult to predict when projects such as the continued reconstruction of Colo. 131 can be completed. Perske said the best strategy to continue work on those projects is to forge ahead with engineering, right-of-way acquisitions and other planning work.

"The idea is to be ready" if more funding becomes available, Perske said.

Plans also are being prepared to treat the 27 miles of road surface on Gore Pass, from Toponas to U.S. 40, Perske said. The overlay would cost about $4 million and only will happen if funds become available.

Jim Nall, traffic engineer for Region 3, gave an update on a study about vehicle-deer collisions. Outside of Craig along U.S. 40, CDOT has put up posts with reflectors that are meant to make deer and elk stop before crossing a street if a vehicle is coming.

Also as part of the study, CDOT is working on efforts to change driver behavior through signs and public service announcements in an area near Montrose, and later CDOT will compare which efforts were better at preventing accidents.

Nall then brought up the idea of putting a traffic signal at Colo. 131 and U.S. 40, which has been considered before but has not been completed.

"I think right now there is a safety (issue) there, I think it is scary," Nall said about the intersection.

Such a signal, which would require the relocation of Routt County Road 24, could cost about $500,000, Nall said. Discussions on such a project should begin in the coming months and would require a partnership between CDOT and the county, Nall said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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