Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper Commends CDOT for Historic Flood Recovery

AASHTO Journal, 12 September 2014

Colorado public officials gathered to commemorate the first anniversary of major Colorado flooding that ultimately closed 486 miles of roads in September 2013. Pictured (from left) are CDOT Region 4 Transportation Director Johnny Olson, Colorado Recovery Office Director Molly Urbina, CDOT Director Don Hunt, Sen. Mark Udall, Rep. Cory Gardner, Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Boulder County Commissioner Elise Jones. Photo courtesy CDOT.

Several prominent public officials were on hand earlier this week to commemorate the anniversary of devastating flooding that caused significant damage to roads and bridges throughout Colorado.

Standing at the site of some of the worst destruction of last year’s floods at US 36 just out of Lyons, Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday commended the work of the Colorado Department of Transportation as the organization prepares to complete the first of many permanent recovery projects.

“The flooding will forever be a part of our history, but not as much, I hope, for the devastation that it caused, but more for the extraordinary resiliency Coloradans demonstrated during the flood and afterward,” said Hickenlooper in a statement. He was joined by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), and CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt.

“A crisis like the flood doesn’t determine your culture as an agency,” Hunt said. “Instead, your agency culture determines the response to the crisis.”

Last year’s flooding caused 486 miles of roads to close. CDOT moved quickly to have all of the state roads open by Nov. 27. Those temporary fixes were made to get the roads open and restore some normalcy following the disaster. CDOT’s recovery effort was this week recognized as an America’s Transportation Awards Top 10 finalist (see related AASHTO Journal story).

According to CDOT, the US 36 from Lyons to Estes Park project was selected as the first permanent repair project. Under Hickenlooper’s charge to build the state’s roads back better than before, engineers designed the permanent fixes on US 36 to move the road further away from the river and have the road on bedrock so it won’t be washed away in any future floods.

“We don’t want the people in Estes Park to ever get cut off again,” said Johnny Olson, regional transportation director who also gave updates on the other 25 flood projects around the state. Olson also unveiled CDOT’s new flood recovery website which provides project information for CDOT and local agency flood projects around the state,

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