By Rick Sallinger

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)– There’s a temporary fix on U.S. 36 in Westminster that moved eastbound lanes onto the westbound side to get around the collapsing roadway. The highway will need to be repaired and who will pay for it is still uncertain.

(credit: CBS)

“Seems like a mess to me,” said Chris Godley, a driver who commutes along that stretch.

Eastbound lanes of U.S. 36 between Wadsworth Boulevard and 104th-Church Ranch Boulevard collapsed with the failure of a retaining wall over the weekend, days after a crack started growing larger last week.

(credit: CBS)

The total cost of repairing it is unclear but CDOT has set aside some $20 million. So who should ultimately cover the cost? It is not yet clear but highway users feel those who built it should fix it.

“I’d say the company not the taxpayers,” said Godley

CBS4 wanted to find out which companies were involved in building this section of road that collapsed along with the retaining wall. One was Ames Construction.

(credit: CBS)

CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger went to the company’s Aurora office, but was told there was no one available to speak with him. Calls were not returned.

The other company was Granite Construction. It issued a statement acknowledging its role, “Granite has reached out to the Department (CDOT) to offer its assistance and cooperate in any investigation into the collapse.”

(credit: CBS)

It said the it was part of a joint venture with Ames that was completed in 2015 for CDOT.

It is not clear yet whether the state or contractors will be stuck with the repair bill.

(credit: CBS)

Dwight Shortridge, one person choosing to take the bus, told CBS4 he feels residents shouldn’t have to pay. RTD will be reimbursed for putting the free service of the Flatiron Flyer on the highway for Monday and Tuesday of this week.

(credit: CBS)

Taxpayers like Craig Seavers wonder if, in the end this will come out of their pockets, “Hopefully the company in charge of building it correctly.”

CDOT has said a forensic and financial analysis of the failure of the highway will be completed. Independent experts will be brought in to review the situation.

(credit: CBS)

CDOT Background and Timeline:

Late last week – A crack started to develop along eastbound US 36 on a section of roadway between Wadsworth Boulevard and 104th/Church Ranch Boulevard. CDOT quickly organized maintenance and engineering crews, as well as contractors, for emergency repairs of the crack that formed along the 200-foot section of the roadway. This portion of eastbound US 36 was closed Friday afternoon, with traffic diverted to the shoulder to keep one lane open.

Approximately 9:00 p.m. Friday, July 12 – The full closure of this portion of the roadway began as CDOT crews evaluated the damage to determine the right repairs. CDOT engineers used ground penetrating radar to examine the soil under the road and found a void in the road base between 150 and 200 feet long and about 10 feet wide. CDOT maintenance crews removed concrete paving panels from the roadway in preparation for deep drilling through the embankment to better identify both the magnitude and cause of this void.

Saturday, July 13 until until Monday, July 15 – CDOT and contractors continued emergency work. The large cracks developed into a sink hole as the roadway shifted, with significant damage to the retaining wall under the road. CDOT began work to bring a construction contractor in to rebuild this section of eastbound US 36. In the meantime, CDOT crews continued working on an interim traffic configuration to open travel lanes for eastbound traffic.

In order to provide another option for the traveling public, CDOT offered free travel on RTD’s Flatiron Flyer and LD bus routes, in both directions, on Monday and Tuesday, July 15 and 16.

Before the morning rush hour on Tuesday, July 16 – CDOT and contract crews completed work to open two eastbound lanes on US 36 near Wadsworth Blvd., 24 hours ahead of schedule. Crews shifted two eastbound lanes on the westbound side with a concrete barrier separating the east- and westbound lanes. This is a stable interim traffic pattern that will be sustainable until eastbound US 36 is rebuilt.

Overnight July 16 into Wednesday morning, July 17 – Both directions of US 36 were closed from 104th/Church Ranch Boulevard to Wadsworth Boulevard for several hours to move a fiber optic cable that serves multiple local entities. This work was successfully completed by 3 a.m. July 17.

Wednesday, July 17 – CDOT established a design team and selected a contractor, Kramer North America, to rebuild the damaged section of eastbound US 36.

KEY FACTS

  • The roadway started to crack late last week and the cracks got significantly worse as the roadway shifted, causing the part of the road to cave in and the retaining wall to fall apart.
  • The westbound side and adjacent bridge in the area are safe and in good condition. The bridge has its own support system entirely, with a steel concrete foundation that goes deep into the bedrock. The bridge has been separated from the damaged section of the roadway by CDOT’s bridge crew.
  • The damage is isolated to a specific area of eastbound US 36
  • In an abundance of caution, CDOT crews have been on scene at all times inspecting and monitoring the damaged area.
  • The bike path over the railroad bridge is also closed for safety reasons. A detour is in place.
  • The new traffic shift is in place on the westbound side. The Express Lane and shoulder in this area are operating as general purpose lanes for eastbound traffic (No tolls are applied to this section, but Express Lanes are operating as normal outside of the traffic configuration)
  • Travel in this area will be slower than usual, so motorists are advised to expect some delays and give themselves extra time when traveling the corridor during peak periods.

Rick Sallinger

Comments