Colorado flood recovery: Highway 72 in Coal Creek Canyon ropens Monday

Closed from Highway 93 to Highway 119 since Sept.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - The flood-damaged highway in Coal Creek Canyon northwest of Denver reopened Monday.

Gov. John Hickenlooper was on hand when Colorado Highway 72 reopened to all traffic.

Damage from the September floods forced the state to close the highway from the junction with Colorado 93 outside Westminster to the junction with Colorado 119 near Nederland.

"Each day we move closer to reopening more roadways and reconnecting communities," Hickenlooper said last week. "We are grateful to CDOT, local communities and other partners for all of their efforts since the floods to reopen SH 72."

U.S. 36 between Lyons and Estes Park opened last week after temporary repairs to flood damage.

CDOT Spokesperson Amy Ford told 7NEWS there are two highways left to re-open. Those include State Highway 7 between Lyons and Estes Park and US 34 between Estes Park and the Dam Store. The September floods damaged 27 state highways.

"We're continuing to build the base where the road has literally washed away," Ford said. "We actually take rocks and we build a base of big rocks then we bring in a smaller set, a smaller set and smaller set, and we simply rebuild the road. Then we add materials to fill in and it compacts in, which provides that base."

Crews had 200 miles of roadway to repair; that number is now roughly 50 miles. All of the repairs are temporary except for Highway 72. Ford said there are minor stretches there that will need to be repaired but the majority of the road is permanently fixed.

Contractors are continuing work on SH 7 and U.S. 34. Currently, there are 100 pieces of equipment being used to repair U.S. 34, which was 85 percent damaged. Highway 7 was roughly 50-60 percent damaged and Highway 72 was 50 percent damaged.

CDOT has set a deadline of December 1st to reopen SH 7 and U.S. 34. They've received $450 million in federal assistance for temporary repairs. After they're finished with temporary repairs, they'll begin designing permanent repairs.

Ford said they'll likely start permanent repairs in the spring beginning with U.S. 34 between Greeley and Kersey. She said they need to add guardrails and asphalt. In some cases, CDOT may be forced to move part of the roadways.

The floods killed nine people, damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 homes and washed out hundreds of miles of roads.

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