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September 2013 Floods: One Year Later

Monday, October 20, 2014

This September marks a year since the devastating floods of 2013. In that year, Coloradans have seen an amazing outpouring of strength and resilience. In a feature article on the flood event in March of this year, industry news magazine Roads and Bridges commented that “The public-private-sector response to the flash floods—which took place during monsoon rains Monday through Sunday Sept. 9-15—was so productive that the last major highway [SH 7] was reopened the day before Thanksgiving.”


Like many other highways throughout the Front Range and beyond, SH 7 was completely washed out when raging water from the South St. Vrain River ripped through it. RockSol was one of the first teams in response to all of the flood-damaged roads, working alongside CDOT to conduct initial evaluations and cost estimates of the extent and nature of the damage, including areas that were inaccessible by conventional vehicles. RockSol staff mobilized during the flooding event to man roadblocks while flooding continued and assisted CDOT with the initial evaluation, design recommendations, and project mobilization logistics for consultants and contractors as soon as the rain subsided.


RockSol mobilized 34 staff within six days to provide field engineering and construction management on behalf of CDOT for SH 7 in Lyons, US 34 in the Big Thompson Canyon, and US 36 in Estes Park. We even offered up our Loveland office to CDOT as an alternative site for their Incident Command Center (ICC) (about ½-mile away).


RockSol also had three to five staff assisting in the ICC with the day-to-day operations of the CDOT finance team, evaluating the daily detailed damage inspection reports, calculating the actual quantities, categorizing the information on detailed spreadsheets, and reporting the information directly to FHWA. RockSol staff assessed roadway and structures damage, made design recommendations, and prepared cost estimates, which CDOT and the Governor of Colorado used to request and secure FEMA and FHWA Emergency Relief funding.


The construction management and inspection services conducted by RockSol staff included complex recommendations for high level design decisions, coordinating extensive manpower, tracking force account work performed by the Contractors on a daily basis, and ensuring that CDOT had proper documentation for reimbursement from the Emergency Relief program under FHWA.


On SH 7, RockSol teams worked hand-in-hand with the Contractor to re-establish access to private residences that were evacuated from their homes during the flooding. On US 34, RockSol teams worked closely with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Contractor to remove a damaged irrigation dam structure and to construct a temporary access road. On US 36, RockSol teams worked with the Colorado Army National Guard on an as needed basis assisting with the reconstruction of the new roadway involving moving the flood rivers back into their original locations.


While the floods have receded and the emergency work has been completed, there is still much to do. Many of the emergency repairs were done to temporarily reopen access while more permanent repairs could be planned. Now begins the long haul to ensure that Colorado’s roads and bridges can stand strong for years and years to come.


As a final note, the Flood Response is also one of the top 10 finalists in the 2014 America’s Transportation Awards competition. You can vote for the People’s Choice award by clicking HERE or visiting www.americastransportationawards.org.