Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Permanent flood fixes in Colorado could take years

Monte Whaley in the Denver Post: A Dec. 1 deadline to reopen 27 flood-battered Colorado highways was tame compared with the years of complex challenges facing road crews charged with making permanent fixes to damage caused by September's historic floods.

The magnitude of the task is still being assessed while highway managers consider the types of technological and engineering changes they need to make to keep 485 miles of damaged roadway less vulnerable to mass flooding.

It may take the Colorado Department of Transportation as long as 48 months to finish the permanent repairs needed on formerly flooded roads, said Johnny Olson, CDOT's incident commander for the state's infrastructure recovery force.

"We were charged with getting residents reconnected with their communities by getting these roadways done, and done to ensure safety by Dec. 1, and we did that," said Olson. "Now we have to go back and evaluate and make repairs based on the long term."

By Dec. 31, CDOT should have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. By next spring, work could start on permanent "early out" projects where there was relatively minor damage to roadways. But on larger sections of highway — including U.S. 34 in Big Thompson Canyon — evaluations will take much longer and the work will be more detailed and challenging, Olson said....

Arapahoe at 1st street in Boulder, Colorado on September 13th, 2013. Flood brought debris onto the road and caused serious damage. Shot by AlmanacManiac, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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