DENVER (CBS4) – A 4-foot-wide road surface block broke off the bridge of an Interstate 70 overpass in the foothills on Wednesday, creating a hole that damaged multiple vehicles and took more than a full day to clear be repaired.
It also created an opportunity for the state agency in charge of highways to highlight the need to approve funding for the replacement of a section of road that includes the overpass.
Colorado Department of Transportation workers responded to the westbound lanes of I-70 around sunrise Wednesday morning and began repairs. The hole developed at the bottom of Floyd Hill on an overpass over Highway 6. Vehicles in the right lane hit the hole with their passenger-side wheels while negotiating a sharp left turn after descending the hill at highway speeds.
A CBS4 staff member saw at least half a dozen vehicles, including a tractor-trailer, seen on the shoulder of the road immediately past the overpass. Some of the passenger cars and trucks were on jacks and drivers were replacing tires. Other vehicles, seemingly impossible to drive, were loaded onto flatbed trucks.
“Emergency repairs have become the norm for this vital stretch of the I-70 Mountain Corridor with decades of extreme weather and heavy traffic, and there have been no lasting improvements since this section was built in early 1960s,” said the executive director of CDOT. Shoshana Lew in a CDOT press release. “Improvements can’t come fast enough. CDOT is moving forward with procurement and a timeline to rebuild this eight-mile section of I-70 and we will apply for a federal grant that is critically important to the movement of people and goods in the whole state and beyond.
Repairs were completed and the lane opened to traffic at 9 a.m. Thursday.
A state official told CBS4 on Friday that no liability claims have yet been filed by motorists related to Wednesday morning’s incident.
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Dignitaries gathered at the same overpass eight days ago to support proposed improvements to the highway. US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg joined Colorado Governor and several members of Congress to push for approval of funding for the CDOT I-70 project.
This project will improve an eight-mile stretch of I-70 from east of the Floyd Hill/Beaver Brook exit to the Veterans Memorial Tunnels east of Idaho Springs. It would include a redesign of the overpass at the Highway 6 interchange, raising both lanes above the canyon floor.
In its press release, CDOT said it had already committed $460 million in funding for the project’s projected $700 million price.
RELATED: ‘Finally Fixing Colorado’s Damned Roads’: Governor Jared Polis Targets I-70 Stretch Between Floyd Hill and Idaho Springs During Bill Signing
Any drivers who suffered vehicle damage Wednesday morning can visit the State Liability Claims site to file a claim. Claims must be filed within 182 days.