Over 1,000 bridges to be inspected for flood damage

MILLIKEN, Colo. – The Highway 60 bridge that connects Milliken and Platteville reopened Tuesday afternoon.

It’s one of over 1,000 bridges the Colorado Department of Transportation has or will have to inspect before they can be reopened.

CDOT is also set to inspect over 500 lane miles of roadway across the state. A lot of those inspections will take place on Highway 34 near Lyons and Estes Park, two of the towns hardest hit by the floods.

Joshua Laipply, a bridge engineer for CDOT, said he has never seen such widespread damage across the state.

“There are a number of bridges we can’t open,” Laipply said. “There are a number of bridges we can’t even access at this point.”

The Highway 60 bridge between Milken and Plateville was closed down when crews found the bridge no longer connected the road. Crews quickly repaired the damage to reopen the bridge on Tuesday.

Like all other bridges, there were two inspections before the bridge was deemed safe for use. The first determines safety of the bridge in the wake of the floods. The second assesses any necessary repairs.

Those inspection processes delay the reopening of bridges, but Laipply said they are vital parts of the repair process.

“The full extent of what we need to repair can’t be determined in that first assessment,” Laipply said.

As of now, CDOT has not put a time frame on when they are expecting to reopen the majority of the currently-closed bridges and roadways.

Governor John Hickenlooper wants to expedite those repairs, but he also doesn’t want to rush the process.

“A lot of these bridges and culverts and roadways were built a long time ago,” Hickenlooper said. “Design standards weren’t the same. We have a strong opportunity here to, with FEMA’s partnership, come out of this with a stronger statewide infrastructure.”

The state of Colorado is getting help in that process. On Monday, crews from Vermont showed up to assist CDOT. The reason? Their state had the same kind of widespread destruction when Hurricane Irene hit their region two years ago.