A Dec. 1 deadline to reopen 27 flood-battered Colorado highways was tame compared with the years of complex challenges facing road crews charged with permanently fixing damage caused by September's historic floods.
The magnitude of the task is still being assessed while highway managers consider the types of technological and engineering changes they need to make to keep 485 miles of damaged roadway less vulnerable to mass flooding.
It may take the Colorado Department of Transportation as long as 48 months to finish the permanent repairs needed on formerly flooded roads, said Johnny Olson, CDOT's incident commander for the state's infrastructure recovery force.
"We were charged with getting residents reconnected with their communities by getting these roadways done, and done to ensure safety by Dec. 1, and we did that," said Olson. "Now we have to go back and evaluate and make repairs based on the long term."
About one-third of the $450 million in state and federal funds available for flood-damage repairs has been spent on temporary fixes, leaving the rest for permanent work.