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Construction on Piedra Road is slated to begin on Sept. 3, with paving tentatively set to be completed by Oct. 31.
The construction comes after years of Archuleta County seeking funding for the repaving project that will reconstruct approximately 3.2 miles of the roadway.
According to Ken Feyen, Archuleta County public works director, a preconstruction meeting was held last week, and construction firm Skanska Construction is expected to begin moving equipment into the area this week.
Work on the road will begin at the end of the existing pavement near the cattle guard identifying the boundary between the County Road 600 (Piedra Road) and Forest Service Road 631, Feyen said. That section is mile marker 6.2.
Construction will then proceed south to approximately mile marker 3.
“There will be detours in place during construction,” Feyen wrote in an e-mail. “Only local traffic will be permitted to ingress/egress the work zone area to access their property.”
Further information on detours that may be put in place was not currently available.
While paving is anticipated to be completed by Oct. 31, Feyen noted that construction activity is scheduled to be completed by mid November.
Skanska was awarded the bid for the reconstruction project in July, with a bid amount of $2,916,704.40.
The plan is to have 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 added 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 discretionary funding by the Federal Highway Administration, 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 the road, making for a total of $4 million for the project’s design and implementation.
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 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.