WESTMINSTER, Colo. – Gov. Jared Polis joined Colorado Department of Transportation engineers for a hard-hat tour of the damage to U.S. 36 Tuesday.
Polis donned a safety vest and hard hat to see the crumbling Denver-Boulder Turnpike up close. His reaction was simply, “Wow.”
“I haven’t seen anything like this since the 2013 floods,” Polis said.
The outside lane on eastbound U.S. 36 near Wadsworth Boulevard has sunk several feet below where it should be.
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.
“[I’m] really getting the scope of this and seeing how big this landslide is. Really some major structural stuff that’ll need to be fixed,” Polis said.
According to CDOT, three contractors came out to the site and submitted bids on Tuesday for the repair work. CDOT plans to score the bids Tuesday night and will decide Wednesday morning which contractor to hire.
Once the contractor is secured, repair work can begin. CDOT engineers explained that the crumbling roadway will need to be dug out down to the ground and then rebuilt back up again.
It is still unclear how long the construction will last.
In the meantime, eastbound traffic has been shifted into the westbound lanes by using the express lane and shoulder. CDOT anticipated the temporary lanes would be open Wednesday morning but they were able to open them for the Tuesday morning commute instead.
“Getting that open ahead of schedule by a day was just incredible, so thank you,” Polis said to the CDOT crews present for his tour.
CDOT says it still does not know how much it will cost to repair the key highway connecting Denver and Boulder.
When asked about the construction bill, Polis said, “I know CDOT is really looking into who is responsible for this construction and this defect that they have here and making sure that these parties are held responsible. But the first priority is enabling people to safely commute and saving them time.”