The construction season has recently been taxed by a flurry of road construction as Colorado’s Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been busy repairing pavement throughout the state before the snow flies. If you have been traveling within Colorado this summer, you soon realize you can’t go far without applying the brakes for those orange cautionary road signs.

CDOT is responsible for a highway system that encompasses 9,146 centerline miles (about 23,000 total lane miles) and includes 3,447 bridges. Annually, this system handles more than 27 billion vehicle miles of travel. Although the Interstate system accounts for only about 10%, or 914, of the centerline miles on the state system, about 40% of highway travel within Colorado takes place on Interstate highways.

The summer construction season is relatively short and CDOT’s highway construction program attracts private contractors. This partnership between government and business works well to maintain and improve Colorado’s transportation system with minimal time to complete any given project before winter rolls back around.

The private contractors do the majority of the capital improvement projects and the CDOT maintenance forces take care of the highway system, plowing snow and repairing pavement. Last year, these men and women:

  • Repaired and maintained more than 51,042 miles of roadway
  • Utilized 146,768 tons of asphalt and 1.07 million gallons of liquid asphalt
  • Striped more than 25,303 miles and installed 585,552 square feet of pavement markings
  • Snow plowed, sanded, and/or de-iced 6 million miles of highway
  • Managed 1334 hours of road closures due to snow
  • Applied 225,118 tons of solid deicer and 13.5 million gallons of liquid deicer
  • Repaired/installed 67,294 feet of snow fence
  • Disposed of 64,167 cubic yards of trash with help from 8,946 Adopt-A-Highway volunteers
  • and another 7,868 bags of trash with the support of 81 corporate sponsors
  • Replaced or repaired 49,742 signs and signposts
  • Repaired or installed over 13.6 million linear feet of fencing.

This summer Grand County’s State Highway 40 has been the target for repair crews working to mill the roadway ahead of the planned paving project.  Milling the pavement is a cost effective way to pave only the portions of the road system that need immediate attention. Cold milling or planing is routinely used for “mill and fill” projects, where milling is followed sooner or later by a lift or lifts of hot mix asphalt which provide a new driving surface. But milling is much more than that. Cold milling or planing removes aged or damaged asphalt in specific areas and depths depending on conditions of the pavement prior to asphalt placement.

“In recent years, the machines themselves have become a lot more productive with better technology, but the biggest thing that has happened is that they have become more reliable,” says Kyle Lester, division of Highway Maintenance Director, “With the first machines in the mid-70s you would work on them almost much as they would work for you. They were almost self-destructive. But with improved horsepower and better cutter technology, they’ve really evolved into a very reliable unit.”  These machines save the taxpayer thousands of dollars. Lester said, “We can target specific areas of a roadway and those repairs are a fraction of the cost of a complete overhaul.”

In total the CDOT budget for the project in Grand and Jackson county is roughly $1 million dollars this summer with a couple of hundred miles of asphalt being repaired. The repaving work should be completed in the next 6 weeks, according to officials, if mother nature cooperates.