Just after 5 a.m. today, July 16, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced that it had opened two eastbound lanes of U.S. 36 from Boulder, just in time for morning rush hour. But drivers should expect a slow commute amid efforts to repair a partial collapse of the roadway.
CDOT crews had closed eastbound 36 near Wadsworth Boulevard on Friday, July 12, after noticing large cracks associated with what are referred to as "settlement issues."
The agency previously suggested that the closure would continue through today, with reopening scheduled by Wednesday, July 17. But round-the-clock work in the area allowed workers to complete their interim task 24 hours ahead of schedule. Specifically, two lanes of eastbound traffic have been shifted onto the westbound side of the highway, with a concrete barrier separating vehicles heading in the opposite direction.
The shift will affect a half-mile section or so of the highway. During the repair period, the express lane and shoulder in the reconfiguration area will operate as general purpose lanes. No tolls will be applied in this section. Outside it, however, tolls will be charged as normal.
CDOT describes the temporary fix as "a stable interim traffic pattern that will be sustainable until eastbound US 36 will be rebuilt following a major collapse of a section of the retaining wall and roadway."
In a statement, CDOT executive director Shohana Lew says, "CDOT greatly appreciates the patience of travelers during this challenge with the roadway failure. US 36 is a vital corridor to the Denver Metro region and it’s critical we keep all travel lanes open. The CDOT team has worked around the clock to get eastbound travel lanes open as soon and as safely as possible to keep people and commerce moving. We are now working to get a contractor on board to rebuild the section of EB US 36 that collapsed, and we will continue to keep the public informed."
In the meantime, officials concede that traffic will be "slower than usual" until the repairs are completed and all of the lanes are restored. There's no firm estimate about how long this process will take, although CDOT expects to have a construction contract in place by week's end to rebuild the damaged section.
Until then, the agency encourages those who can telecommute rather than drive this portion of U.S. 36 to do so. Other tips include combining or skipping trips, particularly during peak travel times, and driving with extra care, leaving plenty of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
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