Closing up shop

Highway 131 crews wrapping up work for the winter

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Connell Resources work crews clean up the shoulder area on a half-mile section of Colorado Highway 131 between Routt County Road 14E and the Lake Catamount intersection on Wednesday. The work is done for the winter, and motorists can expect normal commutes within two weeks.

— In about two weeks, traffic flow on Colorado Highway 131 will return to normal.

"We're just cleaning everything up and making it look nice before we shut down for the winter," project engineer Brad Andrews said Wednesday.

Andrews works for Fort Collins-based Connell Resources, which was contracted by the Colorado Department of Transportation, to repair and expand three miles of Colo. 131.

The three-mile stretch begins near the Routt County Road 18 turnoff for Lake Catamount and extends west toward Oak Creek.

Andrews said work began on the stretch of highway in mid-May, several weeks later than an intended April start that was delayed by lingering snow and moisture.

After nearly six months of work, Andrews said Connell workers have completed improvements on the westernmost 2.1 miles of highway.

Crews will return in spring 2007 to complete work on the remaining stretch, which is paved and prepared for winter use.

Andrews said improvements to the 2.1 miles of Colo. 131 include widened shoulders and new turning lanes at intersections with adjoining county roads.

"We made a bunch of safety improvements," Andrews said, adding that, while the intent was to complete all three miles this year, wet earth was a constant factor.

"When we dug out the road, it was a mess," Andrews said. "We knew there was going to be moisture in the ground, but we didn't know there would be that much of it."

Andrews said crews are closing up shop because of coming winter weather.

"We didn't want to open up this last stretch of road and then get a big old snowstorm and not be able to pave it," Andrews said.

Andrews said he expects Connell crews to leave the site by the end of next week.

The change will be welcome for area residents, many of whom live on usually quiet county roads that became noisy, and in some cases dangerous, with diverted traffic during the summer.

"It was a big impact just from the standpoint of increased traffic," said C.R. 14C resident Maury Bunn. "We live on 14C because we want to live off the main drag."

Bunn said many drivers on 14C "did not heed the speed limit at all" and often passed other cars illegally and on blind hills.

"We called the Sheriff's Office a couple times," Bunn said, adding that cars would travel 50 mph despite the 35 mph posted speed limit.

The heavy use took a toll on 14C and other county roads in the area.

"It became full of potholes," Bunn said about 14C. Routt County crews graded and repaired the road Wednesday.

Naomi Hopkins has lived on Routt County Road 14C for nearly 30 years.

On the afternoon of Sept. 25, Hopkins said, a car struck her family's six-year-old German shepherd, Sasha.

Sasha died of a hemorrhage in a veterinary hospital the next day.

"We've had some landowner issues," Olson acknowledged, mentioning residents with driveways adjacent to repaired portions of the highway. "We've resolved those issues to (the owners') satisfaction."

Bunn said he does not blame Connell Resources for the increased traffic.

"Everything was handled pretty professionally," Bunn said. "They were doing the best they could to keep traffic moving. I have no complaints about that at all."

The improvements to the 2.1 completed miles of Colo. 131 cost $3.5 million, Olson said.

The entire project will cost $5.6 million.

Comments

workerbee 7 years, 9 months ago

Moisture my ass! They took three day weekends all the time, didn't start work until late in the morning (in the summer when it was warm) left early, etc etc. This is the worst construction project I have seen in a long time, poor management all around! And I feel sorry for the woman who lost her dog, but that dog chased my car many times when I was going the speed limit and I almost hit it as well!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 9 months ago

From having to go down to Oak Creek almost every day thru Labor Day weekend for rehearsals in the evening, I can remember them working at least til past 6p-630p. Not sure what time in the morning they started, but they were there after 6p and even on Saturdays, sometimes.

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workerbee 7 years, 9 months ago

Then you will remember that they took a 4 day weekend for Labor Day! For those of us who have to commute on 131 every single day it has been a huge hassle, and to not even finish it is really aggravating!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 9 months ago

No, I remember being stopped on Saturday that weekend. I decided I wanted to see how far along they'd gotten. I'd been taking the "long-cut" on CR's 14 & 35. It's aggravating, definitely, but I had no problems. CR 14 & 35 was a life saver for driving back and forth.

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Tall_Poppy 7 years, 9 months ago

Labor Day Weekend? No way they took a 4 day weekend-- I spent plenty of time waiting in line. More often than not, I saw Tony Connell out there too. What's your axe W. Bee?

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workerbee 7 years, 9 months ago

I wish that I could have had a spa day while waiting in line! Maybe then I wouldn't be so angry about the delay! My axe is that they spent all summer doing nothing, and they did take a 4 day weekend on Labor Day too! I went in to town that Saturday and Monday and they were no where to be found (thankfully) nothing but a big cluster for those of us who had to commute through it day in and out. I do feel sorry about the dog, but it was downright scary the first time it happened to me, driving along, yes I'm the ass that goes the speed limit, and they both (twin dogs?) came running at me, had my window down, I literally jumped in my seat and almost ran off the road. And I don't know who Tony is so I can't say anything to that. But I can tell you that I don't know a single person that either lives in the Coach or the OC that thought that project was managed well! Maybe you're the first?

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Matthew Stoddard 7 years, 8 months ago

I was stopped that Saturday at around 330pm. My wife and I went down early in order to have dinner down there before The Rocky Horror Show. If Connell Resources (as in Tony Connell) wasn't doing the work, then somebody was hijacking their equipment and flagging people to stop/go.

Do I think it was managed properly? Not really. They could have worked smaller sections instead of having to stop twice, usually. Still, I had no problems on CR's 14 or 35, with either speeders or dogs. Plenty of deer out there. I'd see at least 4 or 5 on the way back to Steamboat each night.

As for the dog in the story, sure I feel bad for it...but doesn't the leash law extend throughout the county? Could have easily been avoided for that one little thing.

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