Eagle, Gypsum poised to take over responsibility for Highway 6
EAGLE — Some time after the first of the year, the towns of Eagle and Gypsum will be taking on a large, new responsibility.
And if things go according to plan, no one will notice a difference.
According to Gypsum Town Engineer Jim Hancock, the Colorado Transportation Commission is slated to act on the Eagle/Gypsum U.S. Highway 6 devolution plan on Dec. 28. If the state green lights the project, then the towns will accept a one-time payment for $12.1 million in exchange for taking over the seven miles of U.S. Highway 6 between Eagle and Gypsum.
The $12.1 million represents the amount the Colorado Department of Transportation estimates it would spend on road maintenance over the next 20 years. While the devolution plan switches maintenance responsibility over to the towns, it also gives Eagle and Gypsum jurisdiction over the road, and that control ultimately holds the most attraction for the municipalities.
But in the immediate future, if the devolution deal is signed in the next month, then the towns will have to cope with their very first responsibility — snowplowing the former state highway.
“Our public works guys think they have come up with a plan to deal with that,” Hancock said.
He noted the town’s snowplow trucks are not as large as the state’s, but Gypsum does have more of them. Hancock said the plan is to hit the highway first thing after a big snow and Gypsum crews will continue plowing to the Sylvan Lake Roundabout, which is the natural turn-around area.
“Hopefully there will be no difference, or if there is one, it will be a change for the better,” he said.
The devolution proposal first surfaced back in 2009, but the proposal was never approved by the Transportation Commission.
Hancock noted that seven years ago, the state approached the towns with the proposal, but the commission balked at the high price tag.
“We were the No. 1 project going into their meeting and we came out at No. 7 and out of the funding,” Hancock said.
What has changed since that time is looming costs for the state. CDOT estimates that it will need to spend $5.2 million on repaving the roadway in the near future so it made sense to move on the devolution plan now.
The cost-responsibility split for the two towns is Gypsum will be receiving $10.5 million and taking over 5.6 miles. Eagle will receive $1.6 million and will be taking over 1.6 miles.
In addition to the highway, the towns will be taking over structures associated with the road. That includes culverts, culvert boxes and bridges. The two largest bridges, however, have already been replaced by the state — the Brush Creek bridge just west of Eagle in 2015 and the Eagle River Bridge in Gypsum in 1999.