WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Transportation wants to get everyone back on the roads as soon as possible. They’ve already started with $130 million and more money is expected from the federal government next week.
There is a priority list of roads that will be repaired first. Those include two major stretches of Highway 34, the highway to Estes Park, Highway 36, Highway 7, Highway 119 and Highway 72.
Flooding from torrential rain crumbled and closed down highways and bridges in seven counties across Colorado. The repairs could take anywhere from four months to several years. Those repairs and closures could have a ripple effect on people’s lives, tourism and Colorado’s economy.
“Here in Firestone and Frederick we’re in a growth spurt right now. It could damage what we had coming in,” said Frederick resident Christian Spencer.
CDOT has reviewed the damage and places Highways 14, 34, and 36 as the hardest hit with damage exceeding 20 miles in each case.
There is a flood of money coming in to help with repairs totaling $135 million. Break that down into $35 million in “quick release” cash from the U.S. Department of Transportation, then another $100 million from CDOT’s contingency fund.
Crews are working on debris removal and assessing roadways before repairs can begin in earnest.
Temporary repairs are also underway and then the focus will shirt to priority areas.
“The first priority is reconnecting communities, especially those communities that only have one point of access in and out,” said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.
Those include Estes Park and Lyons, Highways 34 and 36.
CDOT will also prioritize restoring services like water, sewage and electricity by repairing access roads so those who do return home can have a sense of normalcy.
“We often plan for 100-year floods but we are looking at a 300 or a 500-year flood here and so those conditions, that’s a hard one to top,” said Ford.
CDOT said they need companies to mobilize instantly which gives an edge to local businesses because they are already in place. The workforce will be a combination of CDOT workers from other areas of Colorado, the National Guard and private industry.
Major flooding across Colorado caused by heavy rain washed out or closed numerous highways and bridges in Boulder, Larimer, Weld, Denver, Gilpin, Clear Creek and Jefferson Counties in eastern Colorado. Highways 14, 34 and 36 were hit particularly hard, with roadway damage exceeding 20 miles in each case. The preliminary damage cost estimate statewide is $40 million for roads and $112 million for bridges.
Of the funding provided Wednesday, $25 million will immediately support current efforts to re-open closed roads, provide detours and protect damaged structures, and $5 million will go toward road and bridge repairs on federally-owned lands, including the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.
Colorado Floods: How To Help
The recent floods are impacting families and communities throughout Colorado, so CBS4 has compiled a list of ways you can support the local communities impacted by the floods.