The Colorado Department of Transportation on Wednesday was awarded $1.25 million to pay back funds used to repair U.S. Highway 550 on Red Mountain Pass from rock and mudslide damage in summer 2018.
The money is part of a larger $705 million Emergency Relief Fund announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In total, CDOT received $23 million, with the bulk of that money going to 32 permanent repair projects from the 2013 floods that occurred in Northwest Colorado.
“Since the 2013 floods, and after last year’s U.S. 550 rockslide, we have worked persistently to ensure our state has the resources it needs to fully recover, but there is more work to do,” Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement.
“This funding will make it possible to complete final repair projects – rebuilding our infrastructure and making our communities more resilient to future disasters.”
In July 2018, Red Mountain Pass was forced to close, about 2 miles south of Ouray, for a debris slide that buried the highway in 4 to 10 feet of mud and rock as a result of heavy rain.
Lisa Schwantes, spokeswoman for CDOT, said crews completed emergency road repairs and cliff work on the stretch of highway by mid-December.
“Originally, we thought that only temporary repairs could be accomplished and a larger scale project would be required later in the fall, but the teamwork resulted in a permanent fix for the crib wall,” CDOT Program Engineer Kevin Curry said in a statement.
That project, Schwantes said, was paid for by state Transportation Commission emergency funds, which will now be returned to the commission upon receipt of the federal funds.
“We are grateful to the Colorado congressional delegation for helping to secure the funds to fully recover from these events,” CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said in a statement. “The floods of 2013 were the most devastating natural disaster in the state’s history. Having the resources to finish the last of those permanent repairs and pay for the damage caused by the rockfall on Red Mountain Pass is important for the safety and good repair of our state’s transportation network.”