Construction on Piedra Road is nearing reality following the opening of bids for the reconstruction project last week.
Following the opening of the bids Wednesday, July 17, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners awarded the bid for the reconstruction of Piedra Road in a special meeting the next day.
The county received three bids for the project:
• Elam Construction, with a bid amount of $3,364,220.35.
• Old Castle Construction, with a bid amount of $3,361,022.
• Skanska Construction, with a bid amount of $2,916,704.40.
Acting in accordance with staff recommendation, the board awarded the contract to Skanska, contingent upon the Colorado Department of Transportation approving the award.
If and when CDOT approves the awarding of the contract to Skanska, construction will be able to begin.
The county will allow 120 days for the contract time to complete the project, but Archuleta County Public Works Director Ken Feyen previously anticipated the bulk of the work would take 60-90 days, due to the need to detour traffic from Piedra Road and any weather interferences, as well as other variables.
Once construction starts, Feyen said motorists can expect major delays and detours along Piedra Road for the duration of the project.
Reconstruction of the road will begin at the cattle guard identifying the boundary between the county road and forest service road (where the pavement ends near Hatcher Lake) and work south towards U.S. 160.
The plan is to have the chosen construction firm (Skanska) mill up the existing pavement on the road, mix it with a soil stabilizer (such as concrete or lime) and re-lay it. A total of five inches of asphalt will then be laid over the top of the reclaimed, stronger base pavement. That process is known as “full-depth reclamation.”
According to the project narrative, work will include reconstructing the subgrade (as above), and widening travel lanes to a uniform 12 feet. Feyen noted that gravel shoulders will be added to each side of the roadway.
Funding for the reconstruction is coming from a $3.5 million grant from Public Lands Highway (PLH) discretionary funding by the FHWA, with the Colorado Department of Transportation administering the grant.
The county received that grant in August 2012, also pledging $500,000 to reconstruct a portion of Piedra Road, making for a total of $4 million for the project.
Piedra Road is considered a federal forest highway, and is the most-traveled county road in Archuleta County, according to county staff.
The project narrative submitted with the PLH grant application states: “Approximately 348,000 acres of the San Juan National Forest, of which 100,000 acres are wilderness, are accessed via CR 600, FS 631 (Piedra Road). Piedra Road is the connecting link between US Hwy. 160 and this area of the San Juan National Forest and is the most heavily traveled route in the Pagosa Ranger District.”
The narrative continues to note that the road is the only connection the residents of southern Hinsdale County have to a full-service community, and estimates that 75,000-100,000 visitors per year use the road for recreational reasons.
In addition to recreation, the narrative notes grazing, timber, firewood gathering and biomass operations that take place within the San Juan National Forest.
With that heavy use, the condition of Piedra Road has deteriorated to the point of permanent “road damage” signs being installed.
The county also recently applied for another federal grant in attempts to be able to reconstruct an additional portion of the road in future years.