CDOT begins work on 550/160

 Shovels hit dirt Monday at the Highway 550/160 intersection, and the work is groundbreaking in more ways than one. The Durango project is the first time Colorado Department of Transportation crews will be building the latest in intersection technology ,what is known as a “Continuous Flow Intersection.”

Heralded as a “proven and promising approach to reducing congestion and increasing safety,” the CFI will essentially move the left turn signal (headed west toward Mancos) farther south on U.S. 550. Travelers heading north (from Walmart, for example) and turning left will utilize this new signal, cross the southbound lane and turn onto 160 from the new lane. The arrangement is meant to allow for simultaneous traffic flow while providing longer green signals for south and eastbound traffic.

Although done elsewhere in the state and country, this is the first time CDOT has embarked on such a configuration.

The total cost for the project is $6.1 million, and according to CDOT officials, the work was much needed.

“This intersection sees 30,000 to 45,000 vehicles each day,” CDOT Region 5 Engineer Mike McVaugh said. “That’s more traffic than any state highway on the Western Slope, including I-70.”

Both a roundabout and an interchange were ruled out, mainly due to capacity and cost. “A roundabout could not handle this volume of traffic,” designer/project engineer Tommy Humphrey said. “And an interchange would have limited benefits for its additional, much higher cost.”

This week, work began between the intersection and Ninth Street with surveying, erosion control and removal of the guardrail in front of Liquor World. The project is expected to last through mid-August, with single-lane closures Monday through Friday. No weekend work is anticipated.

Other project improvements include:

- Enhanced traffic flow at Camino del Rio/College Drive with a reconfigured traffic signal and approach lanes

- Improved bike lanes on US 160 West, Camino del Rio and portions of College Drive; bike boxes; “sharrow” pavement markings; signage; and bicycle signal detections

- Improved pedestrian access, with median refuges at 7th Street, 160 at the Dog Park, and Camino and College Drive as well as shortened roadway crossings through raised islands and medians

-  Rapid flash beacons, such as the one at 11th Street and Camino, at 160 West at the Dog Park, as well as improvements to the existing crossing at 7th and Camino.

The pedestrian and bicycle improvements were based on input from residents through the City’s Multi Modal Department. “The City greatly appreciated the valuable input given by Durango citizens and businesses through the public outreach,” Durango Multimodal Administrator Amber Blake said. “The cycling and pedestrian components in the CFI offered us an opportunity to partner on a project from our Multimodal Transportation Master Plan.”

For more information or regular updates, go to or sign up for project update texts at

CAIC looks to increase funding

With one of the largest avalanche cycles in 30 years, eight avalanche fatalities and numerous accidents, to say it’s been a busy season for the Colorado Avalanche Information Center is an understatement.

To help the strapped nonprofit avalanche forecasting program, which has only six forecasters throughout the state, a group called Friends of the Colorado Avalanche Information Center is hoping to help unbury the struggling organization.

Last month, Friends of the CAIC launched a $150,000 fundraising campaign in an effort to expand avalanche forecasting and education throughout the state.

“With backcountry accidents on the rise, it is imperative that our forecast center continues to provide accurate and timely avalanche forecasts. Our avalanche center does an amazing job with what they have, but with everyone’s involvement we can help them expand,” Aaron Carlson, Executive Director of Friends of CAIC, said. “Colorado is a very big place and there are more and more people enjoying the state’s spectacular winter backcountry each year. We deserve the best avalanche center in the country.”

Money raised from the campaign, along with a recent increase in funding from the State of Colorado, will be used to help improve the CAIC’s backcountry forecast program and add more forecasters. Funds will also go toward more education in schools as well as for community groups and businesses with avalanche safety concerns.

“More forecaster time in the field means more local field data which in turn means better forecasts for the backcountry users. The expanded resources also means more education opportunities in schools throughout Colorado,” CAIC Director Ethan Greene said.

To help sweeten the pot, anyone who donates $25 or more each week will be entered into a weekly drawing for gear. Upcoming prizes including ski and golf gift certificates; a tent; Scarpa boots; and backcountry safety package including BCA Tracker 2 beacon, shovel, probe and pack; K2 skis; a Voile splitboard; and a grand prize cat trip for two with Powder Addiction Snowcats.

In addition, several donors will be offering matching funds throughout this campaign.

The fundraising campaign runs until April 30. As of this week, close to $19,000, or about 12 percent of the goal, had been reached. Donations can be made:


KSUT, Alpine Bank launch fund

Local nonprofits that underwrite on KSUT Public Radio can now get more bang for their marketing buck. This week, KSUT announced it is partnering with Alpine Bank to offer the “Community Matching Fund” by which nonprofits that underwrite on KSUT will be given matching funds, dollar-for-dollar up to $500, from Alpine. The minimum investment is $250.

“It is a challenge that every nonprofit faces,” Alpine Bank Vice President Beth Drum said. “We have long supported the nonprofit community, and through the Community Matching Fund, we hope to assist these valuable organizations in their efforts.”

The fund is designed to help local nonprofits stretch their limited marketing dollar.

“Underwriting on KSUT is an extremely effective tool for increasing the public’s awareness of your organization’s mission, events, opportunities and needs,” KSUT Development Director Bruce Campbell said. “As a nonprofit ourselves, we find that most of our resources are devoted to fulfilling our mission, leaving little available for marketing. KSUT is in a unique position to assist other nonprofit groups.”

Organizations can submit an application at www.ksut. org/alpine-bank-community-matching-fund. Once the application has been approved, nonprofits need to contact KSUT Underwriting Manager Tanya Clegg at or 970-563-0255 to schedule their underwriting.

– Missy Votel

In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows