Paonia mayor pleads case for faster fix on highway closure

JOANN KALENAK, DCCR SENIOR BLOGGER — Yesterday, DCCR shared a story from the Crested Butte News — since local media and county officials failed to inform the public — about CDOT’s latest efforts to fix a major road disaster caused by recent flooding on HWY 133 just outside of Paonia. In that story, readers were told about a plan to build a temporary bridge but added … “The temporary bridge is expected to be delivered by June 28.”

This news did not sit well with Paonia Mayor Mary Bachran who seemed surprised by the late date announcement. She got on the horn.

“Just called our [governor] Polis, our representative, Marc Catlin, our [state] senator, Perry Will, and [Senator] Bennett and am trying Hickenlooper now,” wrote Bachran in an email to DCCR.

Bachran was eventually contacted by Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) project managers who told her “CDOT is considering this an emergency situation.” They also told the mayor that a contractor, RL Wadsworth, had been hired and that they would be honing the date for installation of a temporary bridge this Monday, May 22.

“It [the temporary bridge] will be able to handle two-way traffic and handle all legal loads,” said Bachran.

Since RL Wadsworth’s contract is set to expire at the end of June, Bachran is hopeful that the temporary bridge will be in place far sooner than the earlier reported date.

Starting today, The Town of Paonia and Delta County will provide a survey on their prospective websites for those commuting to Carbondale or Glenwood for work in order to get a better handle on traveler’s needs.

“We are [also] collecting numbers [from non-commuters] to see if we can possibly open the road for more traffic,” Bachran added.

Complete the survey here.

Fast runoff from above average snowfall this winter caused a large sinkhole and culvert damage on Highway 133, north of Paonia, two weeks ago. The damage was severe enough to make both lanes impassable resulting in a safety closure by CDOT.

This is a developing story. Stand by for more.

Photo by Gunnison Country Times.

Read the story from the Crested Butte News.