Highway 9 construction causing commuter headaches | SummitDaily.com

Highway 9 construction causing commuter headaches

Jane Reuter

SUMMIT COUNTY – Maggie Butler thinks her ’94 Saturn just might be aging prematurely these days, a fact she blames on her daily commute. Butler and her husband both drive through the five miles of road construction taking place this summer from mile marker 109 to 116 on Highway 9.

“My husband and I think it’s taken two years off each of our cars’ lives,” she said. “I think they try and do a good job keeping up with traffic, but it’s trying.”

And it will continue to be trying. The reconstruction of that stretch of Highway 9 began last fall, resumed this spring, will take a winter vacation and resume again in spring of 2003 before coming to an anticipated fall 2003 finish.

But for now, it’s a dusty, slow stretch of road, most of it dirt, generously speckled with potholes. Sidewalls of loose dirt rise up on some sides of the project, smaller piles of gravel flank the road on other sides. Flagmen, some of them wearing surgical masks over their mouths, stop traffic at four different areas.

“All I can say is if the town of Silverthorne did something like that, the EPA would be on our throats in no time flat,” said Silverthorne Councilmember Peggy Long, who drives the route on a regular basis.

Long’s husband, County Commissioner Tom Long, said he’s been deluged with calls about conditions there.

“They did start to improve after we raised some hell,” he said.

CDOT officials admit dust has been a problem, but said the contractor, Denver-based PCL Civil Constructors, is working to combat it.

“The biggest problem is it’s been so dry,” said CDOT spokesman Bob Wilson. “They’ve been spraying 40- to 50,000 gallons of water a day up there. They originally had just one water truck, but they brought up a second to spray down the construction site.”

“They know there’s been a little bit more of a problem with the potholes. They’re getting a little more stable material to fill them so that will stabilize the road surface so it doesn’t break into potholes quite as frequently.”

Wilson said the contractor “is being fairly aggressive.”

“They’re trying to get this project done sooner rather than later,” he said. “It will be an improved highway. It’s short-term pain for long-term gain.”

Jane Reuter can be reached at 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at jreuter@summitdaily.com

When the Colorado Department of Transportation’s $12.3 million project is complete, that stretch of highway will include two underpasses designed as wildlife crossings, a new bridge over the Blue River, retaining walls and culverts, softer curves on some stretches of highway, new pavement and wider shoulders.

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