The Colorado Dept. of Transportation reports that work is “progressing well” on a project to improve safety at the S.H. 172 intersection at Oxford in La Plata County. The county is managing the project at county roads 311 and 513, which began in mid-February.

Map courtesy of CDOT
The project reconstructs and improves the S.H. 172 intersection at Oxford in La Plata County, Colo.

The project is expected to extend through November and will reconstruct the intersection by adding acceleration and deceleration lanes on S.H. 172, realigning County Road 311 with County Road and improving drainage and irrigation.

The cost of the work, contracted to Elam Construction, is $3.2 million, of which $600,000 is coming from an Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program grant from the State of Colorado Dept. of Local Affairs (DOLA), $349,000 from La Plata County, $225,100 from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) and $2,025,900 from federal Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds, which CDOT administers.

The goal of the program is to achieve a significant reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads, including non-state-owned public roads and roads on tribal lands.

“We knew something had to be done to improve the safety at this intersection, where County Road 311 comes in at an acute angle and does not line up with 513,” said La Plata County Public Works Director Jim Davis. “We initially applied for the DOLA funds for the design and partial funding for construction and were encouraged by CDOT to apply for additional construction funding from the HSIP; we were able to make up the difference to get this work done.”

According to CDOT traffic data, the intersection has seen 30 collisions over a 10-year period from January 1, 2003 through December 31, 2013. Nineteen of the collisions involved property damage only (damage to the vehicle); 10 involved injuries and one involved a fatality from a sideswipe at the intersection. Fourteen of the 30 crashes were specifically intersection related.

The project will improve safety at the intersection by increasing sight distance for drivers entering or crossing S.H. 172 from the county roads; it will also reduce the risk of rear-end accidents on S.H. 172 by providing turn lanes.