The volume of traffic on a road will be one of nine factors in Routt County's decision about when to pave roads.
The Routt County Road and Bridge Department is asking Routt County commissioners to adopt its policy and procedures for when to turn gravel roads into paved roads.
The county has 550 miles of road that it maintains year-round. About 150 miles of those roads are paved, and the rest are gravel. The county considers light surface treatments, such as roads with chip and seal, as paved roads.
"The gravel roads are getting a lot of pressure from residential growth and construction out in the county," Director of the Road and Bridge Department Paul Draper said.
The county receives frequent requests from rural residents to pave roads. County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said commissioners need criteria to weigh to help decide which roads to pave.
"We have requests all the time by citizens to pave the roads in front of their houses. What we were finding is there were a lot more things to consider other than how much traffic is on the road," Stahoviak said.
In the Road and Bridge Department's recommendation, there are nine points to consider before making the decision to go from gravel to paved roads.
Although the volume of traffic is among the nine, the county also will consider the safety and design of the road, the condition of the road base and the cost to prepare the road for paving.
The cost of maintaining the road and how paving the road fits into the county's long-term road plan also will be considered.
The policy states that the number of vehicles and weight of vehicles using the road will be considered. The average daily traffic volume should be in the range of 300 to 500 average daily trips before the county will consider paving the road.
In the policy statement, Draper noted that paving roads helps seal the surface from moisture intrusion, protecting the base and materials. It also eliminates dust and sparks higher use because of the smooth surface.
However, potholes are easier to repair on gravel roads, and vehicles tend to travel at lower speeds. Unpaved roads also can handle weight better than some lightly surfaced roads.
The county points to vehicles that commonly run on county roads with weights of 80,000 pounds. The damage from these vehicles on lightly paved roads would require improving the sub-base of the road and resealing the surface. The damage to a gravel road would be easier and less expensive to repair, the report stated.
"There is nothing wrong with a good gravel road," the report stated. "Properly maintained, a gravel road can serve general traffic adequately for many years."
Routt County is scheduled to review the suggested policy and procedures on Aug.30.
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