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Flooded roads get repairs; $2.3 million bridge project to begin

The bridge over Alkali Canyon on County Road N will be replaced this summer for $2.3 million. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Montezuma County and CDOT are busy repairing roads and bridges

Colorado Department of Transportation and Montezuma County have been busy repairing roads impacted by flooding, and a $2.3 million bridge replacement is set to begin next month.

Montezuma County Road and Bridge crews are repairing the section of County Road P damaged by flooding March 16.

The sinkhole was discovered when a man driving a Jeep in fog at 4 a.m. crashed into it. There were no injuries, and the vehicle did not sustain heavy damage.

Crews are digging up the area to replace the old culvert, said Road Department Manager Rob Englehart.

Mar 15, 2023
Flooding closes Colorado Highway 184 north of Cortez

The old 6-foot culvert will be replaced with two, 5-foot culverts that have a smooth bore.

The larger-capacity culvert system will drain water from the low area more efficiently. The smooth bore also allows for increased flow compared with ribbed culverts, which cause the water to slow down.

The longer-lasting improved culverts cost $34,000.

Alkali Bridge replacement

The bridge over Alkali Canyon on Road N will be replaced this summer. The $2.3 million project will take 120 days, Englehart said.

Eighty percent of the funding was paid for by federal and CDOT grants, he said. The county paid a 20% match of $460,000.

The 40-year-old steel-beam bridge has rusted and is coming apart. Reverse camber girders are failing, and abutment walls are crumbling.

“It’s so deteriorated that it qualified for federal funding to replace it,” Englehart said.

D&L Construction of Cortez was the lowest bidder and was awarded the job along with project manager Bechtel Engineering of Durango. The job entails removing the old bridge, installing a 72-foot-long concrete bridge, rebuilding approaches and paving.

Road N traffic at the bridge project will be rerouted to Road P during the four-month construction.

The sinkhole occurred along the area of the detour, so crews are working to repair it in time for bridge construction to begin in May.

Colorado 184 fix ‘challenging’

Colorado Highway 184 reopened Thursday after being closed by flooding since March 14.

A culvert became overwhelmed by snowmelt and days of rain, which backed up water for several acres.

Colorado Department of Transportation drained the area, installed a new culvert and repaired the road.

A Jeep Wrangler crashed into a sink hole that formed on County Road P between Roads 21 and 22. There were no serious injuries. (Courtesy Lewis-Arriola Fire Department)
Rapid snowmelt and rain caused flooding and the closure of Colorado Highway 184 near its intersection with U.S. Highway 491. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

“These aged culverts experienced an excessive amount of runoff a few weeks ago because of the significant precipitation we received in a short amount of time,” said Justin Sinclair, CDOT maintenance patrol foreman from Dolores. “Due to the age of the two culverts, portions were rusted and failed. Water was not able to flow through.”

The area needed to drain for repairs to take place, he said. For several days, water was pumped from the north side of the road to the south side. Once the area was drained and the ground dried out sufficiently, repairs were able to be performed.

The roadway above the culverts was dug up and the two old 18-inch corrugated pipes were removed, said Brett Major, CDOT maintenance patrol foreman. Two new larger 24-inch plastic pipes were set into place.

“The new pipes will allow for eight times more volume of water to flow under the roadway,” Major said.

Crews said it was a “challenging fix,” in part because of rising water levels from continued rain and rapid snowmelt. Also, as the ongoing snowstorms hit the area, maintenance crews were redirected for plow duties.

The repaired section of the highway still requires a paving patch, so drivers need to slow down over the rough section of roadway. Repaving will occur in a few once the material is available from hot plant suppliers, CDOT said.

The approximate cost of the repair was $29,000, said public information officer Lisa Schwantes.