Gypsum begins repair of dangerous dips along U.S. Highway 6 east of town
GYPSUM — The roller-coaster thrill of driving between Eagle and Gypsum will soon be a thing of the past.
But motorists who regularly travel between the two towns along U.S. Highway 6 should brace themselves for a month of delays, as the town of Gypsum repairs the series of roadway dips near the Eagle Baptist Church site.
“It will become single-lane, alternating traffic during construction,” said Jeremy Reitmann, of the town of Gypsum. “Our suggested detour is Interstate 70.”
Construction crews planned to mobilize at the site on Monday, Oct. 2, for the four-week project. Temporary travel lanes will be built in the area as crews excavate the roadway. Motorists can expect delays as crews work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We need to remove material as deep as four feet to solve the problem,” Reitmann said.
Dips in the pavement at the site have been a long-term situation, noted Gypsum Town Engineer Jim Hancock.
“People who grew up here remember it being bad as long as they can remember,” he said. “This is something (Colorado Department of Transportation) has patched several times over the years.”
For cars, the dips are generally an annoyance or a thrill, depending on the attitude of the person who is driving. But for load-carrying trucks, the dips represent a real hazard. Several truckloads — everything from hay to furniture — have tumbled to the road over the years as trucks hit the dips.
According to Hancock, the situation is caused by wet and shifting soil in the gulch area near the road. Because of the fine soil in the area, various patches to the pavement haven’t held long term. That’s why the town’s repair plan will include substantial excavation to stabilize the road base.
“We are going to try to fix this once and be done with it,” Hancock said.
Gypsum is tackling the problem as the new owner of the roadway. Earlier this year, the towns of Gypsum and Eagle agreed to a devolution plan with CDOT. With devolution, the towns took over operation and maintenance of Highway 6 between and through the two communities. As part of that deal, Gypsum received a one-time payment of $10.5 million, which represents the estimated cost of maintenance and capital projects along the roadway for the next 20 years. Some of that money will be applied to the anticipated $464,000 cost of the dip repair.
Hancock noted the project is a good example of why Gypsum supported the devolution plan. The town wanted to fix the roadway but didn’t have the authority to do so. At the same time, CDOT has a long list of needed road repairs statewide and this issue didn’t rise to the top of funding priorities.
“We knew about this issue when we agreed to the devolution plan,” Hancock said.
With work now started, Hancock said motorists will definitely be impacted but the pain won’t last for long.
“The worst case scenario is it will take a month. We absolutely, positively have to get it done by the end of the month or we will run out of paving season,” Hancock said.
With a key water deal denied, the Battle Mountain developer and the town of Minturn are planning to meet next week to discuss the future of the Bolts Lake property.