By Nancy Shanks
Special to The SUN
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has a project underway to replace the existing lighting in the U.S. 160 Wolf Creek Pass tunnel with LED fixtures. The new LED fixtures will bring the day and night lighting standards into conformance with national lighting standards and will save approximately 50 percent on monthly utility bills.
Crews are installing 574 new LED fixtures and painting the tunnel walls white to improve visibility inside.
“The improved lighting and painting will reduce the potential for accidents by eliminating that ‘black hole’ effect drivers can experience when entering tunnels,” CDOT Region 5 Traffic and Safety Engineer Mike McVaugh said.
The total cost of the project is $1.3 million and was contracted to Main Electric of Pueblo. This project utilizes both state and federal funds and is a good example of CDOT’s Asset Management Program, which has money identified for tunnel projects.
“An added benefit of the new paint is cost savings — if we did not paint the walls, we would have had to double our lighting, which would have increased our construction cost and reduced our energy savings,” McVaugh said. “With both lights and white paint, we estimate our annual energy savings — and savings for taxpayers — will be $36,000.”
Through Nov. 1, the tunnel will be fully closed day and night, seven days a week. Travelers are using the old U.S. 160 alignment around the tunnel as a construction detour. Motorists are urged to maintain the posted speed limit and drive with extra caution, particularly in inclement weather.
The best way to stay up to date on CDOT projects, traffic impacts and more is to sign up for email and wireless (text) alerts. Go to CDOT’s website at www.coloradodot.info and click on the green cell phone icon in the upper right hand corner of the page and follow the instructions. For road conditions statewide, call 511 or go to www.cotrip.org.