The Colorado Department of Transportation is investing additional funds received last month to address road conditions after one of the most intense winters in recent decades damaged some roads beyond what they normally sustain each year. Twelve stretches of roadway across the state have been identified, and preparations are now underway to make repairs as soon as possible. More than $17.6 million in funding has been distributed to two emergency projects, and $7.4 million is being managed by CDOT’s Division of Maintenance and Operations to reimburse local maintenance teams that either perform roadwork or oversee contracted projects. Weather conditions across the state have finally warmed enough that permanent repairs can be made to roads.
Two large stretches of mountain highways will receive extensive work under emergency contracts with private construction contractors. US Highway 40 on the north side of Berthoud Pass, near Winter Park, has experienced badly deteriorating conditions since mid-winter and maintenance crews have spent weeks making temporary fixes during the seasonal freeze-thaw cycles. A stretch of Interstate 70 from just east of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels will also receive pavement resurfacing. This new stretch of road will connect to a project that was already planned near Georgetown and Silver Plume.
Ten additional sections of roadways will receive funding for projects that CDOT maintenance staff will oversee. As work scopes and cost estimates continue to be refined, the Department will determine whether maintenance staff can perform the work directly in accordance with state law or whether projects will be contracted to private construction firms and overseen by maintenance supervisors.
All of this work and the $25 million investment supporting it will allow CDOT to address urgent pavement condition issues without having to delay any planned projects or maintenance work scheduled for the coming months. Winter operations have only recently wound down in high country locations, and maintenance and construction activities are set to continue through the summer at near-record levels.
The 2022-23 winter season was one of the most severe in recent decades. Colorado saw the second-most number of days with snowfall requiring road treatment, and the statewide snowpack peaked well above annual averages. Remote weather stations on high mountain passes across the state measured liquid precipitation above 40 inches since October; this equates to roughly 400-600 inches or more of snow. In addition to the impressive snowfall amounts, this season’s October – March period was the coldest since 2010. March 2023 was the fifth consecutive month with below-average temperatures and the coldest March since 1970. Arctic cold outbreaks affected the state in November, December, January, and February, and two-day temperature swings in both December and February neared all-time records on the Front Range.