Each year, the Colorado Department of Transportation presents one of its six regions with the Executive Director’s Cup, an Award of Excellence. This year’s award went to Region 3, which encompasses the northwest corner of the state, including Delta, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Jackson, Lake, Mesa, Moffat, Montrose, Pitkin, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.
“Our people dedicate their lives to making the transportation system of Colorado the best it can be,” said Region 3 Transportation Director David Eller. “This award is all about the people who plan, program, design, build, maintain, repair and support what is necessary for our highways to run efficiently and safely on a day-to-day basis.
“The hundreds of men and women who work for us are the backbone of the region and the department, and I am honored to be part of such a great work force. And although the Director’s Cup recognizes regional accomplishments, I would be remiss not to mention the outstanding support staff from CDOT headquarters that also help us to be successful.”
The Executive Director’s award began in 1996 and has evolved over the last 17 years to become a way to encourage the CDOT regions to qualify and quantify their various program achievements every year. The winner each year is the region that has performed at the highest level.
This year’s award was presented by CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. It is the fourth win for CDOT’s Region 3, which also won in 1998, 2001 and 2009. Upon receiving the award, Region 3 staff were praised for their focus on employee safety, dedication to advancing or completing highway and bridge projects ahead of schedule, efforts to create partnerships with various entities and responses to emergencies like the U.S. 24 sinkhole north of Leadville.
Some of the recent major accomplishments in the region include:
• Developing public-private partnerships with the town of Parachute, Garfield County the Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs, EnCana Oil & Gas USA Inc., Williams Energy and Battlement Mesa Co., a private development. Partnerships allowed for the design and completion of the new I-70 west Parachute interchange. By creating opportunities with new partners across the region, CDOT can build a more efficient transportation system that supports economic growth.
• Establishing and nurturing partnerships with other entities, including other CDOT regions, the town of Eagle, the city of Glenwood Springs, Eagle County, Grand County, Lake County, Moffat County, the Blue Valley Ranch, Shell Oil and more. These partnerships have either already resulted, or will result, in completed projects, including a State Highway 9 safety improvements project in Grand County that will include a first-of-its-kind wildlife overpass in Colorado.
These partnerships also have resulted in the I-70 Eagle Interchange project, currently in the design phase. Since transportation funding has remained the same in Colorado since the early 1990s, these new partnerships help fund much-needed CDOT projects.
• Exceeding schedule performance measures for projects that are part of the Colorado Bridge Enterprise (CBE), formed in 2009 as part of the FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery) legislation. The purpose of the CBE is to finance, repair, reconstruct and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and rated in poor condition. This additional transportation funding is essential to allowing CDOT to better maintain and improve the safety of the state’s bridges.
In the instance of the U.S. 40 Elk River Bridge replacement, the project was moved up by more than a year thanks not only to available CBE funding but also because CDOT’s engineers had the project design plans completed well ahead of schedule, allowing the project to begin as soon as funds became available. Because many of Colorado’s bridges are in disrepair or poor condition (more than 120 across the state), the improvements will enhance motorist safety.
• Responding quickly to the U.S. 24 sinkhole created when an abandoned railroad tunnel collapsed in July. While repairs were under way, special arrangements were made to allow two cycling events to pass through the area affected by the sinkhole, thereby helping support the local economies and preventing any rescheduling. CDOT engineers also created an innovative continuous warning system along this section of U.S. 24 that will use technology currently available in the area to alert crews if any future sinkholes open along the roadway.
• Moving forward with the partnership to design a new diverging diamond interchange at I-70B, Exit 26 in Grand Junction. The new interchange will improve safety and mobility and will be the first of its kind in Colorado. The project will help put people to work and attract businesses and employers to the area.