Colorado DOT to Expand Truck Parking at Two Rest Areas

U.S. Route 160 in Colorado near Wolf Creek Pass. Expanded parking at the Shaw Creek rest area could come in handy for truckers when Wolf Creek Pass is closed due to weather, crashes, rockfalls or avalanches. (Getty Images)

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The Colorado Department of Transportation is conducting a project to expand truck parking availability at two rest areas.

Parking enhancements geared toward commercial motor vehicles will be made at the Sleeping Ute and Shaw Creek rest areas, both of which are operated by CDOT. The Sleeping Ute rest stop is located in the southwest portion of the state, about 8 miles east of Cortez. The Shaw Creek rest area is located just outside South Fork, about 145 miles east of the Sleeping Ute rest stop.

Both rest areas lie along U.S. Route 160, an east-west corridor that runs from Tuba City, Ariz., to Poplar Bluff, Mo. Some 490 miles of the route wind through southern Colorado. CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes said freight haulers rely on this route, which traverses national forests and Indian reservations, as they travel through the state. The stretch of U.S. Route 160 that passes through the southwest part of the state lies less than 1 mile from Four Corners Monument, linking Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

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“This corridor is an important freight route for trucks carrying and delivering goods to southern Colorado and traveling through to further destinations across the southwestern United States,” Schwantes said.

CDOT and its contract partner, Four Corners Materials, will increase the number of truck parking spaces at both locations. Specifically, truck parking availability at Sleeping Ute will double from three spaces to six. At Shaw Creek, parking will increase from four spaces to 10.

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Colorado Motor Carriers Association President Gregory Fulton said parts of the U.S. Route 160 corridor have steep downhill stretches, and the rest areas provide opportunities for truck operators to check their brakes or cool off their vehicles.

Schwantes noted the increased parking availability at the Shaw Creek rest area will be a relief to truck drivers who may need to stop in case Wolf Creek Pass is closed due to weather, crashes, rockfalls or avalanches. Wolf Creek Pass, which runs through the San Juan Mountains, is about 25 miles southwest of the Shaw Creek rest area.

The additional parking at the Sleeping Ute rest area, too, is meant to provide a haven for truckers during storms and inclement weather, Schwantes said. She noted the expansion will make commercial motor vehicle parking clearly defined, allowing passenger vehicles to flow through the rest area without interfering with parked trucks.

About 490 miles of U.S. Route 160 wind through southern Colorado. (Getty Images)

“This project will focus on safety enhancements that will greatly benefit our trucking community,” Schwantes said.

Additionally, the project will involve asphalt patching, chip sealing, striping and lighting upgrades at both locations. The lighting upgrades will consist of new light poles and luminaries that consume less energy.

Work on the project, which is estimated to cost $1.23 million, will begin April 6. The project is expected to be completed by the end of June.

The project is part of CDOT’s Whole System-Whole Safety initiative to increase safety awareness. The goal is to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve safety conditions across all modes.

Parking availability — or lack thereof — is an important issue for the trucking industry. If a trucker runs out of service hours, he or she will sometimes park in an unsafe location, such as the shoulder of a highway or ramp. Truck parking ranked No. 5 on the American Transportation Research Institute’s Top Industry Issues report, issued Oct. 6.

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