The Routt County Board of Commissioners will host a 5 p.m. public hearing Tuesday to formally sign a resolution limiting the size of the gravel used in chip-and-seal treatments of paved county road to three-eighths of an inch. Above, Routt County Road 14 and its chip-and-seal surface near Dakota Ridge.

Photo by Scott Franz

The Routt County Board of Commissioners will host a 5 p.m. public hearing Tuesday to formally sign a resolution limiting the size of the gravel used in chip-and-seal treatments of paved county road to three-eighths of an inch. Above, Routt County Road 14 and its chip-and-seal surface near Dakota Ridge.

Routt County commissioners to finalize chip-and-seal policy


Past Event

Routt County Board of Commissioners meeting

  • Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs
  • Not available / Free


Other agenda items

■ 2 p.m. Consider developer’s request to divide 10 duplex lots in Blacktail Meadows in Neighborhoods at Young’s Peak in Stagecoach into 20 single-family home lots. Planning Commission voted to recommend denial on Jan. 19.

■ 3 p.m. Lot consolidation replat for Aspen Heights filing 6

■ 3:30 p.m. Lot consolidation replat for Elkhorn Subdivision filing 5

— Acknowledging that Steamboat Springs has a growing reputation for hosting major competitive and recreational cycling events, the Routt County Board of Commissioners is preparing to put a crunchy issue to rest Tuesday.

The commissioners will host a 5 p.m. public hearing to formally sign a resolution limiting the size of the gravel used in chip-and-seal treatments of paved county road to three-eighths of an inch.

Avid Steamboat cyclist Scott Schlapkohl said the signing of the resolution will be a cause for celebration.

“I’m so happy,” he said. “I’m ready to go. Yahoo!”

The intent of the new resolution is to limit the impact of the gravel used in a chip-and-seal overlay on the smoothness of the road surface and, as a result, the cycling experience. The resolution will eliminate the use of larger gravel chips that make the road surface difficult to navigate on the narrow tires of modern road cycles.

One exception to the three-eighths rule would be allowed in instances when a double chip-and-seal is required to maintain a road. In that case, a first course of three-quarter-inch chips topped by a three-eighths-inch chip-and-seal would be allowed.

The county has held public hearings on chip-and-seal gravel since October 2011 after it was brought to the commissioners’ attention that chips as large as three-quarters of an inch had been used on Routt County Road 14, a popular cycling route.

Schlapkohl pointed out to the commissioners in November that the Colorado Department of Transportation had standardized on three-eighths-inch chips, leading Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak to ask later in the meeting, “CDOT uses three-eighths everywhere. Why the heck don’t we?”

Schlapkohl said Monday that while the smaller gravel will make riding roads like River Road (C.R. 14) and Elk River Road (C.R. 129) more pleasant and safer for cyclists, the greater issue is enhancing the cycling experience for visitors.

“The bigger part is what it offers to cycling tourism,” Schlapkohl said. “We have beautiful roads to ride, and we’ve hosted big events like Ride the Rockies and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, as well as many smaller events. People like our roads, but if they’re bumpy they won’t come back.”

The resolution prepared for the commissioners’ signatures by the County Road and Bridge Department points out that “the widespread use of bicycles brings many benefits to a community.” “Cycling improves people’s health, increases public safety, encourages greater involvement in communities, reduces traffic congestion, improves air quality, reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and generally is better for the environment than alternate methods of travel.”

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


Fred Duckels 3 years, 12 months ago

This is strictly an accomodation to the cycling community, 3/8" is more costly and is inneficient. When CDOT uses 3/8" it wears out rapidly in the tire tracks leaving a short life product.


sledneck 3 years, 12 months ago

Don't come in here telling truths, spreading reason and comparing costs, Fred.

We've not had that kind of behavior here for quite a while and we're not going to tolerate it now!


Troutguy 3 years, 12 months ago

How much more per mile does the 3/8" cost vs. 3/4"?

According to a survey done by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the most common size for a single course chip seal is 3/8". Survey respondents also stated that for double-course seals, 1/2" is used for the initial application, followed by a second application that uses aggregate 1/2 that size. Most DOT agaencies use a nominal size that ranges from 3/8" - 1/2". As the aggregate size increases, the surface texture becomes coarser, which results in increase road noise and ride roughness. Also, the potential for windshield damage due to dislodged and projected pieces of aggregate increases as the size of the aggregate increases.

The Montana DOT Maintenance chip and seal manual states that characteristics of a "good aggregate" are : --maximum particle size is 3/8" maximum --overall gradiation - one size, unifomly graded.

It seems to me that using 3/8" aggregate is pretty standard in the industry for a variety of reasons.

If you really want to know more than you ever thought you needed to know about chip sealing, check out this link........Chapter 5 explains how the size of aggregate is decided.


Fred Duckels 3 years, 12 months ago

Troutguy, Your info probably came from aashto and it is their standard. Years ago the practice of chip sealing took on a new meaning for counties and rural areas. It was discovered that 3/4" aggregate used similar to chip seal could perform on gravel surfaces and act like pavement.The double coat worked even better and provided a structure. This has replaced asphalt in some areas and is considerably cheaper. The 3/8" aggregate was meant as a wearing course and provides very little structure. If you look at Hiway 40 you will find the chips worn off where the tires travel in a short period of time. I would say that chains and studded tires render a short life in our valley. Your research has little relevance in this situation.


Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 12 months ago

Perusing this blog I think I know Fred's credentials. Before I comment further, I'd like to discover Trout's bona fides vis-a-vis the construction industry.


mtroach 3 years, 12 months ago

Who cares what trout's bona's are, or what the anti-bike forumites think. The community asked our elected officials to change a policy, and they listened. No one is debating if bigger chip is cheaper or lasts longer. We plainly told our county government to establish a policy that's more friendly toward cyclists. They did.

Any of the anti bikers on this form could have attended those meetings and expressed a counter viewpoint, and swayed the commish against the room full of cyclists, they chose not to attend. I must infer that therefore this issue isn't as important as flaming up this forum with anti bike rhetoric.

Thanks to the comminishers for listening and to everyone at Routt County Road and Bridge for all the work they do keeping our right of ways in such great shape for everyone to use and enjoy.


Fred Duckels 3 years, 12 months ago

mt, It appears that your group used the proven tactic of letting the commissioners know their fate if they did not cooperate. I'm have no dog in this fight, but let's stop blowing smoke.


Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 12 months ago

It's so prolific That loaded question sent empty roach ballistic


mavis 3 years, 12 months ago

I don't think they are anti biker- they are anti support everything under the sun WITHOUT people paying their way. Do the bikers PAY to license thier bikes that we are now accommodating the roads especially for them??

Plus most of the people with an opinion on this are at work during county meetings and can't afford to take the time off since they are so busy paying all of these taxes and funding all of this "extra" you all love.


sledneck 3 years, 12 months ago

I think Roach actually makes a pretty good point. I do not support the move but he's right on how and why it got done.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 12 months ago

This theory that bicyclists don't pay their way is simply false. Bicyclists pay sales and property like everyone else. Most cyclists also drive so they pay gas taxes as well.

Cyclists do not do is wear out roads since they weigh so little.. Heavy trucks wear out roads and compared to the taxes they pay, heavy trucks are not paying their share.

As users of roads, cyclists have pointed out that using larger rocks creates problems with using the roads and the county commissioners have decided to deal with the problem. It is hardly far that as taxpayers that the roads had been maintained in a way that created problems for a significant portion of the local population (or tourists considering how much money is being spent elsewhere to bring tourists here).

And county commissioners also take into consideration letters from the public. So even if those that dislike cyclists are all unable to show up at a board meeting, they could have submitted a letter and had their opinions heard. Oh, too busy for that as well? Or maybe, one could look at recent election results and see that those that have problems with that sort of policy are in a small minority.

And county balances their budgets so it is simply wrong and ignorant to make claims of uncontrolled deficits when talking about this policy.


Fred Duckels 3 years, 11 months ago

I know from experience how it is to live along a gravel road, the washboard and the dust, dreaming of the day when pavement will come. We have our elected representatives to get the biggest bang for the buck and keep everyone in mind without coercion to do the maximum good.That is why it took so long to convince the reluctant commisioners that jumping the line was okay for a special group. This is akin to calling for a referendum to circumvent the decision. This so called chip seal as used locally was a way to bring pavement throughout the county and the new method will mean that some will have to continue waiting.


mtroach 3 years, 11 months ago

Everyone benefits, just some realize the benefits more, and some complain more.

Just like everyone shares the cost of roads no matter how they chose to use them.


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