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Construction Work on U.S. 491 Continues on Schedule; City Hopes to See New Medians by Spring

Drivers traveling through Cortez will see road construction on U.S. Highway 491 into the fall, as a project to resurface the road and replace the medians continues.

Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) communications manager Lisa Schwantes told KSJD in an email that the project is on schedule to be completed by the end of November, and that drivers should expect short traffic delays at times.

Over the past few weeks, crews have been installing drainage and utility systems and compacting and reconditioning the road base on the southbound lane. They are now preparing to put in concrete pavement, which should be installed in mid-July. After the southbound lane is completed, crews will undertake the same process on the northbound lane.

After CDOT finishes its work, the City of Cortez will be responsible for beautifying the medians. Cortez City Manager Shane Hale said he hopes the new medians will look similar to the ones on South Broadway that were replaced last year, but that they will cost less than the last project’s $650,000.

“Namely, I think the biggest cost saving is, instead of ripping out all of the hard surface and starting over, I think we’re going to try to cut into the existing hardscapes and put plantings on there that way,” Hale said.

The Cortez Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments will develop the plan to put in new plants on the median. Hale shared his vision for the project.

“It’ll be a combination of trees and shrubs, and I think we’re going to target anything that’s native to the area. Clearly anything that’s more drought tolerant will be much better for us,” he said.

Hale said the plans for the medians are mostly in the concept stage, and must be approved by the Cortez City Council. The City hopes to finish the work by next spring, and Hale said that it will be still possible to make changes based on how the new highway looks at that time.

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