U.S. 36 still sinking an inch per hour; cost over $20 million

Data pix.

DENVER -- The Colorado Department of Transportation says U.S. 36 has sunk more than 10 feet since last week and is still sinking one inch per hour.

The collapse was caused as a result of shifting soil underneath the road. This stretch of the highway was only built five years ago.

"There is a clay layer underneath the ground that has become saturated and when that clay layer absorbs water it loses its strength," CDOT Chief Engineer Josh Laipply said. "That is kind of the frustrating part for us -- things are continuing to fail, continuing to sink."

CDOT engineers say the road caved in because of a landslide, not a sink hole or structural failure as they initially thought. The landslide is still actively sliding. Large chunks of concrete from the retaining wall continue to crack off.

Kraemer North America was selected as the contractor to handle emergency repairs of U.S. 36.

On Thursday, CDOT authorized $20.4 million dollars for emergency repairs. The money will be used to reimburse CDOT for emergency response as well as RTD for free rides offered last week.

Kraemer North America, the contractor authorized to repair 36, will also use part of the money to fix the road.

As for whether taxpayers will be reimbursed, Laipply says that will be up to the state attorney general and whether contractors are taken to court or not.

A forensic investigation is underway to determine what went wrong.

"We want to figure out what went wrong and why did it go wrong," Laipply said.

Eastbound U.S. 36 traffic has been redirected to westbound lanes near the collapse, causing delays, especially during rush hour.

Cyclists who use the bike trail on U.S. 36 are also being impacted. Part of the trail has now collapsed as well.

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