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Years Of Work Still To Come For Flood-Damaged Colorado Roads

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Capt. Darin Overstreet
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U.S. Air National Guard
The 2013 floods wiped out roads in narrow canyons, including U.S. 34, in Larimer County, and U.S. 36, in Boulder County.

The massive September floods of 2013 tore houses from their foundations and washed away roads as if they were made of sand, not asphalt.

While the Colorado Department of Transportation was able to re-open all damaged roads before Dec. 1, 2013, those roads still need a lot more work before they will be able to withstand future floods.

"Those roads look great, but they are definitely in a temporary status and we need to get back in there and fix them up," said Jared Fiel, a CDOT representative. The department is using $450 million in federal disaster funding for the repairs.

One such road, U.S. 36 between Lyons and Estes Park, has been under construction all summer, with frequent closures while crews blast away a section of bedrock, moving the road bed to a more secure location. The agency has an interactive map showing progress on various road construction projects.

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Credit Colorado Department of Transportation
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Colorado Department of Transportation
The Colorado Department of Transportation has an interactive map showing progress on road repair as well as before/after images of flood-damaged roads.

"We wanted to move those roads away from the river, so what we did was move [them] onto bedrock," said Fiel. Construction on U.S. 36 will be completed by the end of September, just a year after the floods. Two other major roads still need significant repair, said Fiel.

One, U.S. 34 running from Loveland to Estes park, will require re-engineering so that it can withstand future floods. The transportation department will be holding public input sessions to hear citizen input on a repaired, resilient road. Fiel said work on engineering the road will take place over winter, and CDOT hopes to start construction in summer 2015.

Another section of U.S. 34, east of Greeley, was also washed away in flooding. The department is constructing a bridge there where the road washed out. Work there will start in mid-October, said Fiel.

U.S. 7, which provided an alternate access to Estes Park during the construction, is also in need of repair, said Fiel.

The main flood-related damage to that road was in the lower portion, but the upper part was used as a detour route during the construction on U.S. 36.

"So that road has taken a lot more traffic, almost double the traffic that is normally on 7, and so it has really deteriorated that road," said Fiel.

Now, both sections need repair. The transportation department is still working with the federal government on funding for that project, said Fiel.

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