DENVER – The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Wednesday they had picked a contractor, Kraemer North America, to rebuild the eastbound portion of U.S. Highway 36 in Westminster that collapsed.
CDOT says it was able to use a contracting mechanism used in emergency situations called a Construction Manager/General Contractor so as to gain a competitive bidding process that will also lead to the road being rebuilt quickly. There were questions Tuesday as to what the next steps would be.
The redesign of the portion of the highway and the retaining wall alongside it will be done by David Evans and RJ Engineering. Kraemer North American will work with those two to put together the final design of that portion of the highway, after which a cost estimate will be determined for construction.
Kraemer North American was also picked by CDOT as the contractor for the I-25 South Gap Project.
“Kraemer submitted a strong technical proposal and distinguished themselves in a competitive bidding process among several reputable firms,” CDOT’s Chief Engineer Josh Laipply said in a statement. “With their selection, we can now transition from incident response to the permanent repair of the road.”
CDOT crews opened two lanes typically used for westbound traffic to let eastbound drivers through Tuesday morning after working around the clock for the past four days. Boulder businesses and tourism officials said Wednesday they hope people won’t be deterred from coming to town because of the traffic diversion.
Crews first noticed cracking in the road last Monday and closed the eastbound lanes on Friday morning as they expanded. But they continued to expand over the weekend and by Monday, the hole in the road had expanded to be more than 300 feet long and 60 feet wide and was sinking an inch each hour.
Aerial footage of the bridge taken Wednesday afternoon showed the road continues to collapse. If you want to avoid the whole area, here are some alternative routes.
CDOT continued to say Wednesday that the westbound side of the road and adjacent bridge are safe. It said the bridge has a steel and concrete foundation built into the bedrock and that the bridge has been separated from the damaged section of the highway.
CDOT engineers said during a Tuesday tour of the roadway with Gov. Jared Polis that they had received three bids for the work. CDOT workers have been working double-shifts to get the road operational and to monitor it.
CDOT Chief Engineer Josh Laipply over the weekend described the problem as a "pretty large slope failure," in which the soil beneath the road settled and shifted and caused the highway to buckle. He said that crews tried to stabilize the soil over the weekend, but it continued to shift and settle.
At Tuesday’s tour with Polis, engineers said that there was a rotational failure along the retaining wall that caused soil material to slip. They said that crews built a buttress using dirt from the Central 70 project to stop the failure.
Polis thanked the crews for making “a big difference” for people who drive the highway and told reporters Tuesday he and CDOT “will do their best to hold parties accountable and to make sure that taxpayers are made whole to the extent possible, and that people are accountable for their work.”
CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said she was pleased to have selected a contractor to get the next steps underway.
“We once again thank the public for their patience during the response phase, and as we shifted towards an interim traffic pattern over the past two days. Safety has been and remains our highest priority, and we remind travelers to drive carefully in this workzone,” Lew said in a statement.