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State highways crippled from flooding

7:15 AM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - More than a week after the first rains fell, the Colorado Department of Transportation is now shifting its focus from helping with rescues to making repairs.

RECENT COLORADO FLOODING STORIES

The job ahead is enormous: around 30 bridges have been destroyed, 20 others seriously damaged, and "many more" that have yet to be assessed, according to Amy Ford, CDOT's director of communications.

She said requests for proposals are being sent out to large construction companies to take on the major projects. Contracts should be awarded by early next week, if not sooner.

While all local interstates are clear, U.S. Highways 34 and 36 are the biggest concern. They are major arteries leading to the popular resort town of Estes Park.

"Both of them are a priority," Ford said. "We're going to try to get both of them in some sort of temporary access mode as quickly as we can, frankly before the winter sets in."

With parts of those two highways completely blocked, the best access to Estes Park is the Peak-to-Peak Highway. Part of that route is State Highway 7, which while passable, did suffer damage. Crews are making steady progress at clearing more and more of that roadway.

"The Peak-to-Peak Highway is not the ideal route to get into Estes Park," Ford said. "But it is a route to get into Estes Park, and that was the important thing."

Ford said while the goal is to get U.S. 34 and 36 temporarily passable by the winter, Permanent fixes will take more time.

This Thursday, CDOT's commissioner are expected to approve allocating its entire contingency fund -- $100 million -- to immediately repairs.

So far, the Federal Highway Administration has given Colorado $5 million. Much more than that is expected to come from FEMA in the months and possibly years ahead.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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