Motorists out of the rough at Aspen Glen
The Aspen Glen Dips created a car-crunching roller coaster that nobody wanted to ride.
“Buses had to slow down, or riders would catch air,” said Penny Ridley, a supervisor for the Roaring Fork Transit Agency.
“We had problems bottoming out in high-speed chases,” said Colorado State Patrol Sgt. William Barkley.
The Aspen Glen Dips, two in in quick succession, were located in the eastbound lane on Highway 82, across from the golf course community that lent its name to one of the road’s most infamous anomalies. “Lent” is the operative word here, because the Highway 82 paving project has tamed the dips. Motorists say the Aspen Glen stretch of asphalt is now almost flat as the Bonneville Salt Flats.
“It’s an extreme improvement,” said Sgt. Williams. “They did a real good job smoothing it out.”
Fixing the Aspen Glen Dips was a primary goal in the $4.3 million, 12.5-mile Highway 82 paving project that extends from just south of Glenwood Springs to about a mile east of Highway 133, said CDOT resident engineer Karen Stufflebeam-Rowe.
Rowe said CDOT studied the Aspen Glen Dips, but isn’t sure how and why they were formed over the years. She said drilling samples showed unstable silt as far as 20 feet below the dips. Subsurface water, either naturally occurring or runoff, might also have helped to create the dips.
To correct the problem, CDOT’s contractor milled off the dips’ high points, put in three inches of asphalt in the low points, and brought in a special piece of equipment to smooth and transition the road 250 feet in both directions. The area around the dips was also graded to move water away from the highway.
Williams said the dips have been a problem since the late 1990s.
Rowe said the Highway 82 project started July 9, and she hopes it will conclude next week, depending on weather.
The project has been getting good reviews from motorists for its smoothness from end to end. Rowe said CDOT included a provision in its contract with Elam Construction that pays an incentive for smooth paving. She said the smoothness is measured by what she described as a 20-foot long “metal bridge” with wheels that runs parallel to the highway’s driving lanes. As the wheels roll along the new surface, a computer measures how smooth it is. The computer also shows where bumps are, so they can be ground down.
Rowe said CDOT also pays incentives for contractors such as Elam to use high-quality asphalt. Subcontractors on the job include Dustol Milling and CC Enterprises.
If you’re wondering how many orange safety cones have been in use for the project, Rowe said the number is 500.
Rowe said the paving project should last for about 10 years, although the highway might require some crack sealing as the years go by.
In recent years, Highway 82 has also experienced rutting from vehicle tires, similar to those left by wagon trains in the prairie as they made their way west.
“We shouldn’t have any rutting for 10 years,” Rowe said.
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