From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Nick Coltrain):
Nearly two years after the September 2013 floods, permanent repairs are still ongoing — and in some cases just starting — on mountain roads scoured by roiling waters.
Gov. John Hickenlooper famously promised to reopen highways washed away within three months of the floods, a promise kept by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Hundreds of millions of dollars, most coming from the federal government, have poured into the mountain roads west of Fort Collins since then, making construction cones seem like permanent fixtures to those venturing above the foothills.
On Tuesday, another section of road was added to the to-do list of Northern Colorado road crews when the Larimer County Commission voted to repave an 800-foot stretch of road in Drake to grant more permanent access to a CDOT repair shop. It’s part of more than a dozen sites being handled by a contractor at a cost of about $700,000 — a drop in the bucket of $120 million in road repairs being overseen by Larimer County.
The county is on the hook for $10 million of those costs, with the majority covered by various federal agencies. The state is matching the county’s contribution.
“Everyone has access, so now it’s all about bringing those roads back up to pre-flood conditions, or close to it,” Assistant County Engineer Rusty McDaniel said.
McDaniel expects the permanent rebuild process, which will leave roads suitable for long-term use, to last about another two or two-and-a-half years — a similar timeline to when CDOT hopes to repair state highways that wind west of the Front Range. It’s a timeline CDOT more than defends; spokesman Jared Fiel highlighted it as ambitious.
Most projects like rebuilding U.S. Highway 34, which cuts from Loveland to Estes Park, would operate on a seven-to-10 year timeline, Fiel said.
“Obviously, you’re looking at a state highway going through a canyon where you have environmental concerns, concerns for both natural resources as well as wildlife in the area and all those things, plus you’re trying to get traffic up and down,” Fiel said.”So the whole process is actually quite daunting.”[…]
Fiel expects the permanent rebuild process to start at the end of this year, with off-road work being done in the eastern entrance to the canyon, where sheer rock walls loom over the road. That should have “very, very minimal impact” on travelers, Fiel said. More apparent — and potentially painful, to motorists at least — work could start once the winter weather clears in spring of next year.