Gypsum starts repairs and other improvements along U.S. Highway 6
GYPSUM — Now that the town owns the roadway, Gypsum has jumped on a repair and beautification project along U.S. Highway 6 near the railroad overpass location.
The project includes removing concrete barrier walls, replacing 60 feet of rusted drainage pipe leading to a nearby field and installing electric and phone lines to eventually service a new variable message sign. The town also plans to repave the pothole-ridden section of road.
The effort is a tangible demonstration of “devolution,” a process that concluded earlier this year involving the towns of Gypsum and Eagle and the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The devolution plan encompasses the seven miles of U.S. Highway 6 that extend from the Eby Creek Road roundabout in Eagle westward to the roundabout at the Interstate 70 interchange in Gypsum. The two towns agreed to take ownership and maintenance of the road and CDOT paid at a flat fee of $12.1 million — the amount the state estimated it would spend maintaining the highway throughout the next two years.
While that fee sounds like a sizable chunk of cash, officials from both towns noted the financial aspect of the devolution plan was not what made it a desirable deal.
“Both communities just want to control our destinies with highway access,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll when the devolution plan was proposed.
The town’s current activity along the roadway is an example of what Shroll was talking about.
For years, Gypsum has contemplated how to improve the appearance of the entry to town. With control of the state highway, the town can actually put its plans into action without waiting for permission from the state agency.
“The town can actually improve (the appearance of the highway) now,” said Gypsum town engineer Jerry Law. “Truth be told, CDOT didn’t have the money to do that.”
Law stressed the town has a good relationship with the local CDOT offices, but because there are such expansive — and expensive — infrastructure needs all around the state, Gypsum is simply in a better financial position to proceed with funding its desired improvements along the highway.
Part of the current project will address basic needs such as drainage corrections and new pavement, but other parts of the plan are intended to spruce up the town’s appearance.
For example, Law noted installation of the permanent variable message board is something Gypsum has wanted to do in the area for some time. With devolution, the town finally had the authority to proceed.
Law said the barrier removal and new electric and phone service installation part of the project should be completed this week. A crew from Elam Construction will then begin milling the road base during the first week of July in preparation for new pavement.
“Everything will be paved and striped by Gypsum Daze,” Law said, referring to the annual community event that takes place in the town July 12-15.
For downvalley humans, it’s pretty cool when elk decide to hunker down around Eagle for the winter. For the elk, it’s more of a lesser-of-two-evils situation.