Road versus railroad repairs after floods

CDOT and Union Pacific say repairs moving fast

DENVER - The work continues to repair hundreds of miles of roadways and railroads after the devastating floods.

Union Pacific says all of its railroads should be repaired within weeks. The Colorado Department of Transportation says the roads will take longer.

It's hard to compare the two because the railroads are a simpler fix, according to Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis.

"There is a lot more planning in what they need to do," said Davis. "I'm sure they're working as fast as they can."

If the planning is the problem in terms of getting roads fixed quickly, CDOT says it is working hard to eliminate that bureaucratic process.

"We're not waiting around for bids," said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford. "Essentially, how this is going to work is -- what work (contractors do), we will pay (them) for it."

Ford says Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed an executive order eliminating a lot of the paperwork and red tape that gets in the way of progress.

Union Pacific, for example, was repairing track just two days after the flood waters hit.

"It's a 24-hour operation," said Davis.

Airtracker7 flew over railroad repair work Tuesday near Milliken in Weld County. And over a stretch of track still down in Boulder County.

"We're accustomed to responding to natural disasters, whether it be from floods, from snowstorms, from drought," said Davis.

Said Ford: "We're concentrating on getting done with a lot of work as quickly as we can, especially before Dec. 1."

Ford said as a result of state regulations being bypassed, no-bid contracts are being accepted from reputable companies so that paperwork and bureaucracy don't impede repairs.

"And then they will get paid for the work they do. So, this is not low-bid. If they put down a certain amount of asphalt, they will get paid for that amount of asphalt," said Ford.

Ford said on Sept. 13, it had 33 roads closed. Now, that number is down to 14.

"Just this past weekend, we were able to open eight different roadways," she said.

Union Pacific is bringing rock in from a quarry near Cheyenne, Wyo. So much rock, that there are now 20 trains a day running from Cheyenne to Greeley and Denver. That's up from an average of 11 on a daily basis.

Ford said CDOT is not concerned about price-gouging by contractors because they have a locked in standard price for asphalt and other work.