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County to implement 5-year road plan

A road plan is now in the hands of Archuleta County staff, giving the county a blueprint for road maintenance and improvement over the next five years.

The plan was delivered by Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. consultant John Simmer on Dec. 22.

The plan includes an alphabetized road list of road segments included in the plan, an inventory and assessment that includes the condition and recommended action for each segment identified, maintenance plans for various facets of work (ditch cleaning, crack sealing and chip sealing, for example) that may exist, an improvement plan, and an annual summary of completed work, when appropriate.

The prioritized list, according to the document, “... (C)alculates priorities based on a number of factors including the condition of the road as established by an assessment, the age of the road, the road classification, the road category (Primary or Secondary) and average daily traffic on the road.”

The first 114 road segments on the plan fall under the category of pavement preservation, with either chip or crack sealing recommended.

Following is work on a number of failed and critical roads, paved and unpaved, including Piedra Road, Trujillo Road, and others.

“I think the best thing about the plan is it’s a third-party look at the majority of the roads in the county,” Commissioner Steve Wadley said in an interview, adding that it takes much of the subjectivity and favoritism out of the process of choosing what roads to work on, but that additional prioritization within the plan would be required.

Archuleta County Public Works Director Key Feyen cautioned, however, that the order prioritized in the plan may not be the order in which the work is done.

“Just a caution that there are a multitude of factors that can determine when and how much of that plan can be implemented,” Feyen said in a Wednesday interview.

Feyen said 2012 bid prices, such as those on magnesium chloride and gravel, will control how much work will be done, as will other funding commitments made in the Road and Bridge Fund.

Feyen said the county has received verbal notification that it will receive grant funding to replace the bridge crossing the Blanco River on County Road 337A, which will require a 20-percent match by the county.

Additionally, Feyen said the Piedra Road reconstruction project made the “short list” for federal funding through Federal Forest Highway funding, and is the third-highest ranked project out of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s submissions, behind two CDOT projects.

Those projects are now anticipated to reach the federal level in January to be assessed, with recommendations for funding made. In competing nationally for funding, Colorado is one several higher-prioritized states due to the amount of federal land in the state.

From there, Feyen said the nationwide recommendations are expected to reach the Secretary of Transportation in May, meaning the county likely won’t hear about the success of the Piedra Road funding until mid-2012.

Feyen previously reported that a total cost to rebuild the full six miles of Piedra Road would land between $5 million and $5.5 million.

Preliminary design for the reconstruction work is complete, Feyen said, and the county could be ready to begin work by fall of 2012 or early 2013 if funding is received.

Other factors determining what order the road plan would be completed in, according to Feyen, would be receipt of additional grants and maximizing the work of contractors, such as by grouping locations of road segments to cut down on trucking costs.

It was previously reported that it would cost approximately $42 million to bring all county roads up to a “fair” or better condition within five years.

In October, the BoCC allocated the expenditure of the county’s anticipated $875,000 available for road maintenance and improvement projects in 2012.

At that meeting, the county opted to continue the current level of magnesium chloride application (two applications annually) at a cost of about $325,000 and on 240 miles of roads, 160 miles in the first application and 80 in the second.

Following discussion on the subject, the commissioners unanimously passed a motion distributing 80 percent of the remaining $550,000 ($440,000) for work on gravel roads and 20 percent ($110,000) for pavement preservation — both amounts to be spent consistent with the five-year road plan.

Archuleta County is anticipated to have an additional $100,000 in Road and Bridge funding in 2013, because the county will no longer be making 1A payments to the Town of Pagosa Springs for a portion of the de-Brucing measure collected from town residents.

The plan also includes tabs for the Road and Bridge policies to be included, but Feyen indicated that the policy will likely be updated in early 2012, when recommendations from the consultant can be assessed and the updating work completed.

In all, Feyen said the key to the successful implementation of the plan is revenue.

Commissioner Clifford Lucero, too, shared that sentiment in an interview.

“My concerns are the funding; not having the funding to do everything that the ... five-year road plan would require,” Lucero said, adding that it was important for the county to maximize the use of the document and avoid “shelving” it.

“What we need to do is we need to put our money where the most county residents benefit from the investment. Prioritization is the key to that, and we need to have ongoing prioritization and reprioritization as circumstances change,” Commissioner Michael Whiting said in an interview, adding the ultimate goal was to better all roads.

Whiting said the approach involving the road plan differs from prior county practices because it offers a level of information the county has not previously had, and in that the policy decision of over-arching prioritization has been completed, though future circumstances may warrant reprioritizing.

It is now a situation of figuring out when a road will receive work, not if, Whiting continued.

Wadley added that, down the road, the plan would also help metro districts in their road improvement endeavors.

CD versions of the plan will be available to the public in the next two weeks by calling Road and Bridge at 264-5660.

Additionally, the county is working to put the plan on the county website.

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