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County solidifies 2010 road plans

On the heels of a special meeting to hear a report from the Road Advisory Task Force Committee, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners made a series of decisions involving the paving and graveling of county roads in 2010.

The BoCC held a special meeting Monday to hear the task force report and to direct staff in order to be able to make decisions in a timely manner and move forward with planned projects.

At Monday’s meeting, the task force reported concerns over the cost of some aspects of the county’s planned projects for the year, including the graveling of four miles of CR 382 in Chromo for $470,600.

In the written report given to the commissioners, task force members reported they drove many of the roads included on the gravel program to check road conditions, and said that CR 382 appeared to be in good shape, save some soft spots and drainage issues.

At the meeting, as well as in the written report, the group pushed for the county to do less work on the road and put the savings (which they believe will be the majority of the $470,600) towards the completion of a five-year plan for roads.

Public Works Director Ken Feyen noted that a factor in the decision of the amount budgeted for CR 382 was the equitable distribution of funds and work throughout the county.

“When we had our public meeting in Chromo, the longest topic of discussion, I believe, was on road maintenance,” Feyen said. “It’s part of an acknowledgment of identifying that there are other county residents that would like to see some benefit from our road program.”

In addition, the group suggested that county hold off any work on Fourmile Road until sufficient funds were available to work on the entire road, versus only the first two miles.

Regarding the 2010 paving program, the task force voiced concern over the price per mile of the planned paving on Aspenglow Boulevard and Handicap Avenue (and possibly Carlee Place, depending on bid amounts received) being over $1 million. In the report, the task force compared the construction of the roads to other, private roads with lower costs per mile.

On behalf of the task force, Bob Hart and Brett Locke (participating via phone) challenged the county to look at alternative methods to lower costs on the roads, or possibly move the project back to 2011 to allow for more time to look at ways to save money.

Mike Davis, of Davis Engineering, offered information at the Monday meeting to help clarify pricing for the project, noting that comparing the roads to newer, private roads was inaccurate.

“That’s not an apples to apples comparison,” Davis said. “Anytime you’re building a new subdivision and you’re out in virgin ground, so to speak, the cost of construction is substantially less than when you’re doing a retrofit project.”

Davis also explained that the poor initial construction of the road is a factor. “We’re essentially starting from scratch.”

Another issue Davis explained was dealing with driveways and the need to keep the roads open for traffic during construction, which he noted adds unavoidable costs.

Unless the county were to employ substandard practices, no more significant cost savings could be achieved, Davis said. In order to lower cost estimates by 7.5 percent, the firm already used a lower truck count for the roads and planned for gravel shoulders.

Feyen also noted that he hoped the project would come in under budget like the paving of Park Avenue last year, but that the budget estimates had to be conservative in order to avoid potential problems.

With the stage set, the BoCC entered into Tuesday’s meeting with four agenda items concerning roads, three of which touched on aspects mentioned in the task force report.

The BoCC approved the proposed design criteria for the paving of Aspenglow and Handicap and Carlee Place (without changes to attempt to save more money), allowing Davis Engineering and the county to move forward with the project.

As for the gravel program, Feyen recommended, and the BoCC agreed on, the list of gravel roads for the 2010 program including the changes suggested by the task force Monday. Instead of completing four miles of work on CR 382, the county will complete two miles. The BoCC also directed the savings from the work on CR 382 to a five-year road plan.

The roads the county anticipates working on as part of the 2010 gravel program are:

• CR 335 (Lower Blanco), three miles.

• CR 382 (Chromo), two miles.

• CR 326 (Upper Blanco), three miles.

• Cascade Avenue (Meadows, Trujillo Road), 0.93 miles.

• Dutton Drive (Pagosa Lakes), 0.67 miles.

• Trails Boulevard (Pagosa Lakes), 0.55 miles.

• CR 977 (Arboles), one mile.

• CR 500 (Trujillo Road), seven miles.

With the acceptance of the gravel program, County Administrator Greg Schulte warned that the list was only a plan, saying, “I just want to caution folks from taking that as totally written in stone, because there are factors that cause that to fluctuate that are beyond our control.”

On the same topic, the BoCC approved the bids for gravel from three companies — Commercial Rock Products, Four Corners Material and Strohecker Asphalt & Paving — for the 2010 program.

In order to save money on trucking, the county chose to use three companies whose bids were relatively close to each other, Feyen said. In judging the four bids received, the county looked not only at the bid, but also at the location of the pits in relation to the projects in the county, coming to a conclusion Feyen described as “advantageous” for the county.

Also dealing with roads, but unrelated to Monday’s meeting, the BoCC approved the Chubb Draw crushing bid received by Dillon Construction, from Arvada, to crush 14,000 yards for gravel for $141,960. The gravel will be used in the graveling of a section of United States Forest Service Road 631 (Piedra Road). No local bids were received.

The BoCC approved an intergovernmental agreement with the USFS in December to crush and apply gravel to Piedra Road from the Hinsdale County line south approximately 2.9 miles for $375,000. The USFS will still be responsible for maintaining the road.

randi@pagosasun.com