The Colorado Department of Transportation says sections of U.S. highways 160 and 550 that were resurfaced two years ago in Durango held up well during the harsh winter, despite cracks and potholes appearing.
CDOT spent $6 million two years ago on resurfacing and repairing a 3-mile section of U.S. highways 160 and 550 from Tech Center Drive to Animas View Drive.
Removing millimeters off the top of the concrete surfaces increased traction and smoothed out ruts and pockets that can turn into more serious damage later, said Lisa Schwantes, a CDOT spokeswoman.
“The diamond grind treatment certainly added additional life to the entire roadway, but cannot prevent potholing completely,” said Kevin Curry, CDOT’s regional program engineer.
Maintenance to fill potholes and cracks that have formed along north Main Avenue (U.S. Highway 550) and U.S. Highway 160 will begin as soon as possible, Schwantes said. But it is dependent on the weather, she said.
As part of the highway rehabilitation two years ago, CDOT replaced concrete panels in the road and added bike lanes by narrowing travel lanes. The work was meant to extend the life of the road by 15 to 20 years and prevent the need for complete reconstruction, which could cost $40 million to $60 million.
Similar projects for Highway 160 through Cortez and South Fork could happen by 2020, but they are dependent on future funding, Curry said.
However, not all residents are convinced the project was a resounding success that should be replicated.
“I’m really disappointed in it,” said Kitty Benzar, a northern La Plata County resident. The new surface has a tendency to catch a vehicle’s tires and pull them to one side or the other, she said.
“I have to really hang on to the wheel,” she said.
Both Benzar and her husband were “dumbfounded” when CDOT declared the project finished, she said. They expected additional road material would be laid on top of the ground-down surface.
Schwantes said to her knowledge, CDOT has never received a complaint about the surface of the highway catching tires.
Dalton Ranch resident Howie Winkworth said he doesn’t have a problem with the road surface, but he was unhappy with the new bike lanes that narrowed north Main Avenue.
He described it as a safety issue because the vehicles are closer together than previously, but the pace of travel hasn’t slowed.
“People don’t slow down for anything,” he said.