Aiming for November finish, CDOT anticipates rough roadwork summer along U.S. 85 between Greeley, Wyoming line | MyWindsorNow.com

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Aiming for November finish, CDOT anticipates rough roadwork summer along U.S. 85 between Greeley, Wyoming line

The projects

» U.S. 85 Ault to Wyoming border — The 30-mile stretch will feature a variety of improvements, including the addition of shoulders to certain sections, centerline rumble strips, repaving, some realignment north of Ault and irrigation and drainage improvements.

Cost: $20 million.

Timeline: This project began in June 2015 and is essentially complete now.

» U.S. 85 and Colo. 392 intersection — The Colorado Department of Transportation is beginning a roadway construction project at the intersection of U.S. 85 and Colo. 392 in Lucerne in Weld County. Work on this project consists of bridge construction and bridge deck repairs over the Greeley No. 2 Canal, and culvert cleaning. Also includes Eaton to O Street repaving.

Cost: $14 million.

Timeline: Work is scheduled to begin on Sept. 19 and is expected to last until November.

» U.S. 85 from Eaton to Ault — CDOT this spring will extend paving through Eaton and through Ault to connect with the new section between Ault and the Wyoming border. This includes re-doing intersections, including U.S. 85 and Collins Street in Eaton, as well as improvements to make possible a traffic light at U.S. 85 and Weld County Road 76.

Cost: $13 million.

Timeline: Expected to be complete in November.

» U.S. 85 Fort Lupton and Evans Park-n-Rides — This project consists of the creation of two park and ride facilities, one each in Fort Lupton and Evans. Each facility will include an asphalt parking lot, a concrete bus loop, lighting, and security cameras. The Fort Lupton site’s access requires the reconstruction of a city street.

Cost: $5.7 million.

Timeline: Already complete.

» U.S. 85 north of Fort Lupton — Through this project, crews will resurface four miles of southbound US 85, north of Fort Lupton, to improve driving lanes, repair shoulders and upgrade guardrails.

Cost: $4.6 million.

Timeline: CDOT will continue ongoing, smaller repaving projects on this stretch.

If it were up to Colorado Department of Transportation spokesman Jared Fiel, the official color of Valentine's Day might well be changed to safety orange.

When Fiel thinks of the orange cones dotting U.S. 85, he thinks about love.

"For a very long time, 85 took the brunt of a lot of work that was going on (around it)," Fiel said. "There was a huge increase in traffic, both passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles, while work was happening in other places. We are now finally showing the love to 85."

CDOT is more than halfway finished wrapping up work from Ault to the Wyoming border and planning to complete the U.S. 85 and Colo. 392 intersection, as well as paving through Eaton and Ault, by November.

"Basically, by November, the entire stretch of road from Greeley to Wyoming will be resurfaced," Fiel said.

In the meantime, particularly this summer, residents along the stretch between Ault and Greeley may be in for some tough love.

"To get to the point of November, when we're going to have all of this beautiful road, it's going to be painful this summer," Fiel said.

There will be lane closures — yes, worse than now — and entire intersections may be closed. Fiel said CDOT expects some to avoid the stretch entirely.

This kind of work isn't normal, Fiel said. What we see now between Greeley and Fort Lupton — stretches of some lanes being repaired bit by bit — is typical.

But CDOT had no choice with the stretch north of Greeley: The entire road kind of fell apart.

"We had maintenance crews patching it all the time," Fiel said. "It got to the point of putting duct tape on sand."

Fiel said the state of the road caused CDOT to accelerate the work, which otherwise would take another two or three years to complete.

The Ault to Wyoming stretch, featuring several bridge replacements, cost about $20 million. Work on the Colo. 392-U.S. 85 intersection, as well as paving between Greeley and Ault to connect to that first work will cost about $27 million.

Fiel is confident that an all-concrete intersection at U.S. 85 and Collins Street in Eaton should last a while, as concrete is hardier than asphalt. But even the asphalt, with proper maintenance, should last "a good chunk of time," Fiel said.

The Colo. 392 intersection will feature extended turn lanes for north and southbound traffic on U.S. 85, as well as bridge construction and bridge deck repairs.

Fiel said the work is important not just because it was necessary. U.S. 85, Fiel said, is a gigantic part of Colorado's transportation system.

"The traffic that goes on 85, along with (Interstate) 25 and 34, that's our spine; it's the lifeblood of the region," Fiel said. "It's vital to communities along the corridor, but everybody feeds into it."

As for the people along the corridor, Fiel said CDOT conversations with those communities suggest they're ready for a rough summer.

"They've been dealing with this road falling apart for so long, they're just like, 'Get in there and get it done,'" Fiel said.

Tyler Silvy covers city and county government for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at tsilvy@greeleytribune.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.