I-70 closure: Colorado asks for $116M in federal aid

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado has asked for $116 million in federal funds to help with the ongoing construction to repair the mudslide-damaged stretch of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon.

Colorado’s Department of Transportation said more than 26 million pounds of material has been removed from the interstate. Last weekend, crews loaded 440 trucks with debris in the cleanup.

Shoshana Lew, CDOT’s executive director, said the the extra dollars would go a long way to getting life back to normal for people who live, travel or carry freight along the canyon.

“As soon as we are confident that it’s safe for the structure to carry drivers back and forth, we are planning to open one lane in each direction to restore the outside inter-service for the traveling public of Colorado as quickly as possible,” Lew said.

What must be done to repair I-70?

Lew said crews are working hard to clear and reopen I-70, but it’s going to cost some serious cash.

“What we put in that letter to the federal government is a placeholder number recognizing we are going to need to take a serious look at some of these resiliency measures, working very closely with the counties and jurisdictions in the case of Cottonwood Pass. It’s probably not a precise number,” Lew said.

The rough estimate calls for millions to remove debris and fix highways that sustained damage while I-70 is closed, along with $50 million dollars toward making Cottonwood Pass able to take on more traffic in the future.

“To make it an all-weather two-way alternative, it’s going to take some straightening, some widening and hard-surfacing,” said Steve Harelson, CDOT’s chief engineer. “It’s not our road, it’s a county road, so we’d obviously have to work with the two counties. It traverses both Forest Service and (Bureau of Land Management) lands, so we’d have to work with those folks, as well.”

CDOT leaders said the group effort will take time complete.

“There’s significant damage to the road, but there’s also damage to the river, right? There’s damage to the railroad. The Shoshone power plant was down for a number of days. We’re seeing these severe storms play out in a lot of areas and disciplines that are going to have to take some actions to repair the damage and move forward,” Lew said.

What federal funds would pay for

Here is a full breakdown of the categories for funding request:

  • Future Resiliency & Redundancy Study costs: $50 million
  • Visible damage estimates caused by event damage/debris removal hauling costs: $20 million
  • Assumed damage repair estimates (non-visible) costs: $20 million
  • Impacts to existing State Highway alternate routes (as a result of I-70 closure) costs: $10 million
  • Potential geohazard mitigation at several locations: $5 million
  • Construction Management and Construction Engineering costs: $5 million
  • Debris removal costs (includes maintenance staff costs): $4 million
  • Supplemental traffic control services (contractor) costs: $1 million
  • CDOT administration (non-maintenance staff) costs: $1 million

Lew said the reopening of I-70 should take days rather than weeks. She is hoping the federal government will you use the quick-release option to get 10% of the requested funding out quickly.

Crews will continue to work on cleanup efforts in the meantime.

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