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Colorado’s Bridges Benefitting from FASTER Funding through the Colorado Bridge Enterprise

August 12, 2013 - Northwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 3 - NORTHWEST COLORADO – In August 2007, the safety of bridges on our nation’s highway system came into the spotlight following the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

As a result of this accident, Colorado took a closer look at its bridges and how to accelerate replacement of poor bridges across the entire state. Six years later, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is experiencing positive results with 95 percent of Colorado bridges rated in “good” or fair condition.

CDOT’s rapid progress on repairing and replacing the state’s deficient bridges is due to the FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery) legislation that was passed in March 2009. The legislation created the Colorado Bridge Enterprise (CBE) and identified a dedicated funding source for repairing and replacing poor-rated bridges across the entire state highway system.

“Since the CBE’s focus is to address the poor bridges on our state system, motorists can see improvements in every part of the state, not just the urban areas,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. “By replacing or repairing these bridges, we are improving our highway infrastructure and creating a safer trip for motorists.”

As of July 31, 2013, the CBE has replaced 53 or repaired bridges while another 22 are under construction and 33 are in the design phase. Some of the major bridge projects in CDOT’s Region 3 (northwest) that are underway include:

  • I-70 Frontage Road Bridge Replacement in Dotsero: The Dotsero “green” bridge replacement project is underway on the I-70 frontage road over the Colorado River. The original structure, built in 1935, warranted replacement because it no longer met design standards and was functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. This project, contracted for $6.2 million, is scheduled for completion in October 2013. Benefits: In addition to replacing a poor-rated bridge structure, the project will also include a new roundabout and pedestrian path for travelers. The new bridge meets current design standards and also maximizes safety.

  • US 40 Elk River Bridge Replacement: The original Elk River bridge on US 40 was built in 1958 and was identified for replacement in 2010 due to a low sufficiency rating. Because the bridge was functionally obsolete, it was replaced with one that meets current standards and maximizes safety features of this section of US 40 for decades to come. The project, contracted for $3.1 million, is scheduled for completion this November. Benefits: The original bridge has been replaced with one that includes wider shoulders and bridge piers that are re-aligned with the river to better accommodate water flows. The end product will cause the least impact possible to the surrounding area, improve sight distance for motorists and provide better maintenance snow storage.

  • SH 82 Grand Avenue Bridge in Glenwood Springs:  The bridge, which crosses the Colorado River, I-70 and the railroad tracks, is a vital connection between Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Canyon and I-70 to the north, and the Roaring Fork Valley and Western Slope communities to the south. An Environmental Assessment (EA) now underway identifies the need for replacement of the structure, for an estimated $60 million. Benefits:  Pending the Record of Decision on the EA underway now, this narrow, four-lane 1953 bridge (well past its 50-year design life) will be replaced with a four-lane structure that meets current standards and also compliments the surrounding mountain community. The target completion date for bridge replacement is 2017.

The sole purpose of the CBE is to finance, repair, reconstruct and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and rated “poor.” In order to accomplish this, a bridge safety surcharge ranging from $13 to $32 has been imposed on vehicle registration based upon vehicle weight. Revenues from the bridge safety surcharge were phased in over a three-year period and are estimated to generate approximately $100 million in annual funding.

In addition, the CBE sold $300 million in Build America Bonds in December 2010 to partially or fully fund the completion of work on 81 bridges currently included in the program (there are currently some 130 bridges on the CBE list). The CBE accelerates work on these poor-rated bridges by making funding available now, thus greatly reducing potential hazards to the traveling public in an expeditious manner.

“While we have made tremendous progress on replacing and repairing poor bridges, we know our work isn’t over yet,” said CDOT Bridge Engineer Joshua Laipply. “With much of our highway system built in the 1950s and 1960s, more bridges will fall into the “poor” category in the coming months and years. However, with the CBE and a dedicated funding source, our state has the means to address this critical need.”

For more information on the CBE as well as a complete list and status of the CBE bridges, please visit http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/BridgeEnterprise.

GET WIRELESS NOTIFICATIONS:  If you would like to receive e-mail and/or wireless notifications about traffic and travel, as well as CDOT projects in the area, please go to CDOT’s website at www.coloradodot.info and select the green phone icon in the upper right corner.

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