DENVER — Colorado Governor John Hickelooper and Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Don Hunt announced the establishment of an infrastructure recovery force (IR Force) to clear, repair, and reconstruct components of the state highway system damaged by the recent flooding by December 1, before the onset of winter. The IR Force will also provide coordination and assistance to local government in reestablishing critical links to local roads, bridges, water, sewer, power, and communications.
“This Infrastructure Recovery Force will help provide a single point of focus and coordination to help us reconnect our communities and rebuild Colorado’s roads and bridges,” said Hickenlooper. “It will have three primary objectives: speed, efficiency, and to improve our transportation system.”
Scot Cuthbertson, CDOT deputy director, and Johnny Olson, current regional transportation director for Region 4 – Greeley, will command the IR Force, which will adopt an Incident Command Structure. Heidi Bimmerle Humphreys will become acting CDOT deputy director while Myron Hora will become acting RTD for Region 4. Cuthbertson and Olson will be joined by a reassignment of CDOT staff to the IR Force whose mission will be focused on:
Response — Including debris clearing, temporary road building, and portable bridges. The work will be conducted by CDOT staff, emergency contractors, and National Guard where possible. This work will be conducted in the next few months.
Recovery — Including more traditional infrastructure construction, which will occur during the next year to establish permanent roadways and bridges.
The IR Force will accomplish recovery work through the rotational assignment of statewide CDOT maintenance, engineering, and support employees. In addition, CDOT personnel will be supplemented by private construction forces and National Guard. The Incident Command Structure includes several key support areas including operations, planning, logistics, finance/admin, communications, safety, and liaisons to communities.
Work has already begun to continue assessment and begin repairs on the 200 lane miles of state highway and 50 bridges that have been destroyed, damaged, or impacted by the flood. The Federal Highway Administration has made $35 million in “Quick Release” emergency fund relief available and the CDOT Transportation Commission has allocated $100 million to begin initial repairs.
“With winter on our heels, we will be restoring routes to communities that currently have limited access,” said CDOT’s Hunt. “Over the next 60 days, our IR Force, with help from the contracting community, National Guard, and our state and federal partners, will focus on removing debris and building temporary roads to improve access to as many impacted routes as possible. It is imperative that we restore as much highway infrastructure as possible in the next two to three months.”