Multiple paving and repair projects are underway on Colorado roadways, including Berthoud Pass, the route between Winter Park and Interstate 70 that was significantly damaged following last year's harsh winter.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, along with members of the Colorado Department of Transportation, held a brief event Wednesday to kickoff the start of the project on Berthoud Pass, which splits Clear Creek County and Grand County northwest of Empire.
“Our mountains are really a key part of why we live in Colorado and we want to make sure that Coloradans and our visitors, who help power our economy, are able to get where they need to go quickly and safely," Polis said.
In addition to the work on Berthoud Pass, CDOT will also begin paving and repairing sections of the Interstate 70 mountain corridor. There are 12 stretches of road in total that will undergo repairs following damage from last winter:
- US Highway 40 (Berthoud Pass): Contracted construction project
- I-70 (Eisenhower Tunnel to Georgetown): Contracted construction project
- I-70 (east side of Vail Pass to Frisco): Contracted construction project - maintenance managed
- I-76 (Eastbound in Denver): On-call contract
- US Highway 50 (north of Lamar): Maintenance staff
- Colorado Highway 151 (east of Ignacio): Maintenance staff
- I-70 (east of Parachute): Maintenance staff
- Colorado Highway 94 (east of Colorado Springs): Maintenance staff
- Colorado Highway 257 (north of Windsor): Maintenance staff
- US Highway 160 (La Veta Pass): Maintenance staff
- Colorado Highway 125 (north of Granby): Contracted construction project - maintenance managed
- US Highway 350 (between Trinidad and La Junta): Maintenance staff
CDOT set to repair 12 roads, including pothole-riddled US 40 over Berthoud Pass
In addition to paving Berthoud Pass, two other projects have started: I-70 eastbound resurfacing from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Georgetown's on-ramp and I-70 eastbound resurfacing from Vail Pass to Frisco.
The first one is expected to wrap paving by the winter and will resume in the spring of 2024 with a focus on the guardrail and signage replacements. The latter will start and end this fall.
All of the 12 operations come in the wake of a harsh winter that severely damaged many of the state's roadways, especially the ones in the mountains. Last winter, Colorado saw the second-most number of days with snowfall requiring road treatment, CDOT reported.
CDOT worked through the Colorado Transportation Commission to secure $25 million in emergency funds for these 12 issues. This funding allows the work to be done without interrupting any other planned work for 2023.
About $17.6 million will go to two emergency projects: $11 million for the north side of Berthoud Pass and the remainder for the stretch of I-70 east of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels. In addition to these two emergency projects, $7.4 million will be managed by CDOT's Division of Maintenance and Operations to reimburse local maintenance teams, CDOT said.
CDOT told our Denver news partners that on July 7 that a 10-mile section of Berthoud Pass will be milled and paved at a two-inch depth between mile point 233 and 243 — or between Winter Park Drive on the north side and the first switchback near Berthoud Falls Cascades on the south side. CDOT has contracted with United Companies/APC Southern Construction for this project.
CDOT will start paving operations in August to combat potholes on Berthoud Pass
In mid-May, the owner of a towing company in nearby Fraser said calls for flat tires along Berthoud Pass were through the roof, describing it as a very dangerous situation. Throughout the spring, Denver7 received multiple emails from drivers frustrated with the state of the road. They have called it "dangerous" and "a complete disaster." Drivers who use the road often said it was the worst they have ever seen.
Drivers say the potholes on Berthoud Pass are the worst they've ever been
CDOT crews could only do so much at the time — they worked on temporary fixes during the freeze-thaw cycles, but the roads still deteriorated, CDOT said. Snowmelt from extensive snowpack created potholes over and over again.
CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew said the crews did everything they possibly could to prevent and fix potholes, but called it "filling a bucket with a hole in it."
Work began on the pass this month.
“The reason it took a little while to get this one underway is that we were fortunately able to secure funding for a much larger project than just pothole paving," Lew said about the $25 million emergency funding.
Lew said CDOT is hoping to minimize any lane closure impacts, but noted there may be some traffic delays during this work. Drivers should, as always, use extra care when driving through work zones.
“Projects are always challenging while they’re occurring, but of course once they’re done, they leave a legacy for decades — a faster, more reliable and safer access for residents and visitors to our mountain communities," Polis added.
As of early July, the Berthoud Pass project's scheduled completion date is in October.
“CDOT is relentlessly focused on repairing critical sections of roadways that mountain travelers depend on in advance of the upcoming winter season,” Lew said.
To sign up for updates on Berthoud Pass repairs updates, email US40BerthoudPass@gmail.com.
"It’s a good summer for taking care of business as we work to maintain and improve the roadways in the mountains and across Colorado," Lew said.