CDOT is used to building roads, but now it’s getting into housing — to help with mountain worker shortages |

CDOT is used to building roads, but now it’s getting into housing — to help with mountain worker shortages

Frisco and Fairplay projects could be the first of several to house maintenance crews in pricey places

Jon Murray
The Denver Post
A Colorado Department of Transportation highway maintenance worker drives a snow plow on a side road in Silver Plume on Dec. 1, 2022.
Andy Cross/The Denver Post

FRISCO — For years, trailer parks set up on state-owned land have offered the workers who plow Colorado’s highways and maintain many of its scenic byways one of the surest ways to gain a stable footing in wildly expensive mountain housing markets.

“I was part of the one in Avon,” said Joseph Bajza, who was starting a family with his wife when the Colorado Department of Transportation hired him eight years ago. He landed on a cheap, state-provided trailer pad.

“And then we saved up enough to get a bigger (trailer) that was located at the Wolcott facility when another employee left,” he said, referring to another CDOT site. “From there, we had enough equity when we sold that place to put a significant downpayment on our home now, in Gypsum.”

But CDOT’s trailer parks — with a dozen trailer pads here, two or four there, for a monthly charge of about $25 — have been an ad-hoc way of managing the housing affordability crisis that’s hamstrung its ability to staff essential positions in the mountains. Now the transportation department is jumping more seriously into the housing business, with the hope of figuring out a sustainable solution.

It’s preparing to break ground in early 2023 on the first two of what’s expected to be a series of CDOT-financed employee housing developments. CDOT will cover construction costs in Frisco and Fairplay by tapping its savings from hundreds of vacant highway maintenance positions in recent years.


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