Gypsum U.S. Highway 6 dips repair comes in ahead of schedule, under budget
GYPSUM — It has resulted in traffic delays on U.S. Highway 6 and backups on Interstate 70, but officials from the town of Gypsum believe that their current road-repair project is a prime example of why devolution was a great idea.
They have a point — crews plan to finish work by Friday, Oct. 13, two weeks ahead of schedule and at a cost that is $60,000 below budget.
The devolution plan encompasses the seven miles of 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 the Colorado Department of Transportation paid them a flat fee of $12.1 million — the amount the state estimated it would spend maintaining the highway through the next 20 years. The towns split the money using a formula that delineated square feet of highway in the respective communities, bridge and culvert replacement needs and other factors. Gypsum received $10.5 million of the devolution dollars, and one of the first projects the town earmarked was the series of road dips near the site of the Eagle Baptist Church.
Gypsum crews figured they would have to dig down four feet to get to soils stable enough to build the roadway back up and ensure the dip issue was addressed. That proved to be optimistic. The excavation went down six feet.
“It was like trying to pack pudding,” said Gypsum public utilities inspector Robert Salazar during a Tuesday, Oct. 10, presentation to the Gypsum Town Council.
After digging deeper and reinforcing the road foundation, Salazar said crews were able to solve an issue that’s been a long-term problem.
“If you drive it, it is hard as a rock now,” Salazar said.
But solution of the roadway’s lingering issue wasn’t the only good news from Salazar this week. He told the council that crews have completed work on the south side of the road and moved over to the north lanes. He estimated the project would be completed Friday, Oct. 13 — more than two weeks ahead of schedule.
“We are going to come in a little under our budgeted amount,” said Gypsum Town Manager Jeff Shroll.
The town originally budgeted $464,000 for the repair, and the actual cost of the project will be closer to $400,000.
Shroll believes that coming in under budget and ahead of schedule is directly tied to the fact that the local jurisdiction was in charge of the repair.
“Because we have devolution, it allowed us to jump on this project,” Shroll said.
In contrast, he said the state has a lengthy list of repairs needed on roads throughout Colorado, so the project simply never rose to the priority level.
“But completing this project is pretty important to both Eagle and Gypsum,” he said.
The dips were one of the most obvious repairs needed along Highway 6 between Eagle and Gypsum, but Shroll said there are several other repairs that need to be addressed.
He said the town has established a Highway 6 fund in its annual budget, and that is where the devolution money is parked. Shroll said Gypsum plans to replenish the fund annually so there is money for ongoing maintenance, as well as larger repairs or emergencies. For example, at some point Gypsum will need to replace the bridge over Gypsum Creek, and that will be a costly proposition.
The first step, Shroll said, will be to establish a committee within the town to look at Highway 6 project needs. He said the town will likely hire a consultant to help the committee prioritize the work.
“There are segments of the road that are fine and have many years left in them,” Shroll said. “We just want to have a plan in place before we spend devolution money because once it is gone, it is gone for good.”
Shroll said the town will also partner with Eagle on maintenance projects, such as striping and other smaller repairs, because combining the work into a single package will likely mean better pricing for both municipalities.
As the weather turns colder, the towns of Eagle and Gypsum will be working out one of the bigger ongoing maintenance needs that comes with devolution — snowplowing responsibilities.
“You can’t just lift the blade of the plow at the town’s boundary. That does not work,” Shroll said.
Instead, he said Gypsum crews will likely plow to the Sylvan Lake Road roundabout in Eagle as a natural turnaround. Eagle crews will likely plow to the first intersection at the Airport Gateway subdivision. The two communities will have to work out a schedule of which crew plows the stretch during a given storm.
“We are going to do a good job with communicating with one another,” Shroll said.