Highway 72 flood follow-up: Up on Coal Creek Canyon

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With winter weather already putting in an appearance, the race is on across Colorado to repair billions of dollars worth of damage to roads, utilities and homes.

There are still sections of Highway 72 through Coal Creek Canyon where floodwaters left less than a lane of roadway remaining.

Those repair efforts received some political attention this week, as members of the Colorado federal delegation, including Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, Congressmen Ed Perlmutter, Jared Polis, and Cory Gardner, as well as state Gov. John Hickenlooper attended a press conference at the base of the Coal Creek Canyon road. The elected officials were gathered to celebrate the passed senate bill that ended the government shutdown as well as increasing the level of emergency transportation funding the state could receive from the federal government, from $100 million to $450 million.

“People around this state have rallied, as only Coloradoans can do, to make this a better, stronger state,” Gardner said.

Perlmutter, who represents the 6th congressional district, which includes the Coal Creek area, said his niece who lives in Coal Creek Canyon was affected by the floods. He joined with the rest of the delegation to praise the work of CDOT and the construction contractors that were working to repair all state highways by Dec. 1.

Perlmutter had unkind words about the government shutdown, but added that in the disaster recovery effort “we’re in this together, as a state, and as a nation.”

Hickenlooper echoed the sentiment.

“It shows you, if the local government, state government, and national government can work together, what we can accomplish,” Hickenlooper said.

According to Chris Paiz, CDOT project engineer for Highway 72 repairs, “in most cases” Coal Creek’s channel and banks have been reestablished. He said the recent snows did briefly delay paving operations, but that the roadway should be open and fully repaired by the Dec. 1 target date.