CDOT initiates shuttle service during long-term repair of damaged highway

Facing a temporary repair which normally requires four months to install, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began shuttling commuters last week around a washed-out section of mountain highway. 

Consecutive days of heavy spring rain washed away a culvert, created a sinkhole, and eventually tore a gap across both lanes of travel on Highway 133. 

The damaged section of Highway 133 near Somerset, Colorado, on May 15.

Colorado Department of Transportation

The sinkhole began to form April 29, according to CDOT, and necessitated a partial lane closure. But that was only the beginning.

“Major flooding from nearby Bear Creek early the week of May 1 filled a culvert with debris and flooded the roadway, pushing the culvert through the other side of the road and eroded roadway embankment, causing the road to collapse,” as described by CDOT in a press release

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The agency closed the roadway May 2 between mile posts 14 and 19. Due to terrain constraints, only limited access was arranged to nearby Somerset residents and emergency responders.

CDOT began offering the free shuttle service May 24. It will run through June 2 (skipping Memorial Day, May 29) with three departures from Paonia Town Park in the morning (5 a.m., 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.) and three returning trips in the afternoon (5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.) from Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Carbondale Park & Ride. A revised schedule will be announced before June 5.

Floodwaters ripped out a culvert and a section of Highway 133 near Somerset, as seen on May 11.

Colorado Department of Transportation

CDOT has started working out details of a temporary bridge installation. Contracting firm R.L. Wadsworth Construction based in Draper, Utah, is negotiating a schedule, the engineering specifics and permitting of the project with CDOT. This type of installation normally requires four months to complete, per CDOT, “but crews are expediting due to the emergency need for a temporary bridge as soon as possible.”

Parts have been ordered from across the nation, according to CDOT. Work should begin the first week of June. The temporary bridge will allow CDOT to open the highway to travelers and begin more permanent repairs to other parts of the road.   

As matters stand now, there is no timeline for completion of the temporary bridge installation.

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