Steamboat Springs Road markings are being added or replaced at 16 Steamboat Springs intersections - and causing a collision of opinions.
A former transportation official said the project is wasting taxpayers' money while a CDOT spokeswoman said the expense is necessary.
Larry Backus, who said he supervised the state highway department's Steamboat office for 11 years, said the Colorado Department of Transportation is using an expensive material for crosswalks it will have to tear up when it overhauls U.S. Highway 40 downtown. That project could begin in fall 2009.
CDOT is adding markings at five spots and replacing markings at 11 sites on and near Lincoln Avenue, CDOT regional spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said. The agency chose thermoplastic markings over paint, which she said are more durable in harsh weather and also cost five to 10 times as much.
"It's not chicken feed," Backus said. "It's a lot of money."
Thermoplastic adheres to the asphalt. CDOT uses it across the state, Shanks said. The work in Steamboat is part of routine maintenance of state-controlled roads, she said. The 11 markings being replaced already used the inlaid material instead of paint, Shanks said.
She acknowledged the agency would have to replace the crosswalks after removing the asphalt along U.S. 40 and installing concrete.
Backus said the current project was "kind of like painting a house and then burning it down six months later." He said CDOT should just add the crosswalks in spring.
The markings can't wait, Shanks said.
"We have to refresh and replace what needs to be done in Steamboat so we maintain safety," Shanks said.
If all goes well, CDOT will advertise the Lincoln Avenue project to contractors in July, she said.
"It will probably be a two-season project," Shanks said, meaning it wouldn't be done until 2010. "We couldn't leave the pavements without markings for that long."
Doug Marsh, street/fleet superintendent for the city, said Steamboat uses regular paint for its road markings. Snowplows tend to wipe those out, Marsh said. The thermoplastic is supposed to last three to four years, depending on plowing, he said.
"I think what they're hoping for is that the crosswalks stay all through winter, where in the past you wouldn't be able to see them because the paint would have worn out," Marsh said.