Colorado Department of Transportation approves $20.4 million for U.S. 36 sinkhole repairs

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Jul 18, 2019

DENVER – The Colorado Transportation Commission on Thursday approved $20.4 million to complete repairs of a collapsed stretch of U.S. 36 in Westminster.

The funding was transferred from the state’s transportation contingency fund, according to CDOT Communications Director Matt Inzeo.

A total of $400,000 will help cover the initial emergency response to the sinking roadway, including $140,000 to reimburse RTD for the Flatiron Flyer bus service to help commuter travel around the damaged section of the highway on Monday and Tuesday, Inzeo said.

Inzeo did stress the commissioner's action to initially fund the repairs “doesn’t speak to who will ultimately pay for the project,” but that it allows them to get the work started.

CDOT officials are still reviewing what caused the roadway to fail.

On Wednesday, the department picked Kraemer North America to rebuild the eastbound portion of the collapsed highway, which continues to sink an inch per hour.

CDOT says it was able to use a contracting mechanism used in emergency situations called a Construction Manager/General Contractor so as to gain a competitive bidding process that will also lead to the road being rebuilt quickly. There were questions Tuesday as to what the next steps would be.

The redesign of the portion of the highway and the retaining wall alongside it will be done by David Evans and RJ Engineering. Kraemer North America will work with those two to put together the final design of that portion of the highway, after which a cost estimate will be determined for construction.

Kraemer North American was also picked by CDOT as the contractor for the I-25 South Gap Project.

CDOT crews opened two lanes typically used for westbound traffic to let eastbound drivers through Tuesday morning after working around the clock for the past four days. Boulder businesses and tourism officials said Wednesday they hope people won’t be deterred from coming to town because of the traffic diversion.

Crews first noticed cracking in the road last Monday and closed the eastbound lanes on Friday morning as they expanded. But they continued to expand over the weekend and by Monday, the hole in the road had expanded to be more than 300 feet long and 60 feet wide and was sinking an inch each hour.

MORE: Want to avoid U.S. 36 in Westminster? Here are some alternative routes

On Wednesday, CDOT continued to say the westbound side of the road and adjacent bridge are safe. It said the bridge has a steel and concrete foundation built into the bedrock and that the bridge has been separated from the damaged section of the highway.

CDOT Chief Engineer Josh Laipply over the weekend described the problem as a "pretty large slope failure," in which the soil beneath the road settled and shifted and caused the highway to buckle. He said that crews tried to stabilize the soil over the weekend, but it continued to shift and settle.

Inzeo said complete repair of the collapsed stretch of highway will take weeks to complete.