Fiber to be installed from town to Wolf Creek Pass

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Enhanced technology will add safety systems for travelers

Colorado Department of Transportation 

On May 2, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will begin a project to install fiber-optic cable and additional dynamic safety signage on U.S. 160 between Pagosa Springs and the east side of Wolf Creek Pass. 

The work will be completed in May of 2023, with a winter suspension anticipated from late November through mid-February. The project duration dates are subject to change depending on weather conditions. 

This $7.9 million project was made possible, in part, through a $4.4 million Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment grant awarded by the Federal Highway Administration. The fiber-optic cable will connect with existing fiber that was installed in 2017 along a 16-mile stretch of the U.S. 160 mountain corridor from the Wolf Creek Pass east tunnel to the community of South Fork. 

“These electrical and fiber upgrades will benefit surrounding communities, travelers, emergency service providers and CDOT’s traveler information systems by connecting new and existing equipment to the power and fiber backbone,” said Shoshana Lew, CDOT executive director. “Information gathered by highway closed circuit cameras and weather stations uses this technology to further improve CDOT’s online communications for travelers. Enhanced information for road and weather alerts and improved Web camera images will be accessible to the public via CDOT’s traveler information site, www.cotrip.org.” 

The project will also include the installation of new and upgraded dynamic signs that will provide additional safety and warning messages to all Wolf Creek Pass travelers regarding road and weather conditions, lowered speeds and the west-side hairpin turn. 

During the project, crews will accomplish the following:

• Excavate a trench approximately 6 to 10 feet from the edge of east- and westbound U.S. 160 and install conduit and fiber optic cable from west of U.S. 84 to the western base of the pass at Treasure Falls, from mile point (MP) 144 to MP 159. 

• Cut the asphalt between the highway’s outer white line and the shoulder and install conduit and fiber optic from Treasure Falls to the ski area (MP 159 to MP 168); the majority of this work will be done on eastbound U.S. 160, with a short section of work along the westbound lane from Treasure Falls east for 1.5 miles.

• Upgrade the westbound U.S. 160 downhill speed warning system at MP 167.34 approaching the west-side hairpin curve.

• Install a new variable message sign on westbound U.S. 160 west of the ski area, MP 167.22. 

• Install six variable speed limit signs for westbound travelers and seven closed-circuit TV poles between the hairpin curve and the ski area, MP 160 to MP 167.

• Install fiber optic between the snowshed and the eastern base of the pass, from MP 168 to MP 174, where existing conduit lies (the conduit was previously installed during the 2017 project, between the snowshed area and South Fork, MP 168.5 to 186).

• Add in-pavement detection systems that detect longer loads and communicate with dynamic speed limit signs.

Travel impacts 

Beginning in early May, crews plan to start work at MP 144.5 east of Pagosa Springs near the U.S. 84 junction and work their way east toward Wolf Creek Pass. 

Initially, work hours will be from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Depending upon the section under construction, U.S. 160 may be reduced to single-lane traffic intermittently in either direction, throughout the duration of the project. When work is underway across any of the four bridges, in the valley east of Pagosa Springs, motorists will encounter single-lane, alternating traffic with delays that could extend beyond 15 minutes, depending on traffic queues. The speed limit will be reduced through the work zones to 40 mph. 

Traffic fines in the construction zone will be doubled.

Project information 

For additional information about this project, contact the project team: 

• Project website: www.codot.gov/projects/us160-wolfcreekpass-fiber.

• Project information hotline: (970) 363-5100.

• Project email: us160fiberinstallwolfcreekpass@gmail.com.