Colorado Highway Crews Work to Reopen Flood-Damaged Roads

By DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press

State highway crews and National Guard troops worked furiously Sunday to repair highways to Colorado mountain towns cut off by unprecedented flooding.

Other teams were assessing how much damage needed to be repaired on Colorado's eastern plains before trucks begin hauling in the fall harvest.

"They're really humming," said Jerre Stead, the corporate executive chosen by Gov. John Hickenlooper to oversee the state's recovery from the catastrophic floods, which killed seven and wreaked havoc across 17 counties and 2,000 square miles.

Stead and Don Hunt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation, said they were optimistic they can meet a Dec. 1 target to complete temporary fixes to at least some roads, if more bad weather doesn't interfere.

Quick repairs are critical because winter weather will make highway work more difficult and force the closure of the high-elevation Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park, one of only two routes still open into Estes Park, a small town at the park's east entrance.

Officials said it's too early to know how much time and money it will take to make permanent repairs, but they say it will cost more than $100 million.

Some 200 miles of state highways and 50 bridges were destroyed.

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