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Colorado’s Bridges Benefitting from FASTER Funding through Colorado Bridge Enterprise

August 13, 2013 - TRANSPORTATION MATTERS - Southeastern Colorado/CDOT Region 2 - PUEBLO – In August 2007, the safety of bridges on our nation’s highway system came into the spotlight following the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN.

As a result of this accident, Colorado took a closer look at its bridges and how to accelerate replacement of poor bridges across the entire state. Six years later, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is experiencing positive results with 95 percent of Colorado bridges rated in “good” or fair condition.

CDOT’s rapid progress on repairing and replacing the state’s deficient bridges is due to the FASTER (Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery) legislation that was passed in March 2009. The legislation created the Colorado Bridge Enterprise (CBE) and identified a dedicated funding source for repairing and replacing poor-rated bridges across the entire state highway system.

“Since the CBE’s focus is to address the poor bridges on our state system, motorists can see improvements in every part of the state, not just the urban areas,” said CDOT Executive Director Don Hunt. “By replacing or repairing these bridges, we are improving our highway infrastructure and creating a safer trip for motorists.”

As of July 31, 2013, the CBE has replaced 53 or repaired bridges while another 22 are under construction and 33 are in the design phase. Some of the major bridge projects in CDOT’s Region Two (southeastern Colorado) include:

  • Interstate 25 at Ilex Street – This project will replace two structurally-deficient bridges, built in 1959, which cross over Ilex and Bennett streets and railroad tracks.  The bridge approaches also are being reconstructed and the road curvature to the south softened. The $33 million project will be the first New Pueblo Freeway project, which will reconstruct I-25 through the city.  These structures will be built to carry three lanes in each direction but configured for two lanes until highway widening occurs north and south of the bridges.  Work is scheduled to begin in November and completed in October 2015.

Benefits: Wider structures and softer curves will enhance safety through this area. In addition, replacing aging infrastructure and provides for a more efficient transportation system that supports for economic and job growth.

  • U.S. 350 northeast of Trinidad – The CBE provided funding for this $1.9 million project.  Completed in July, it replaced a 76-year-old bridge over a dry gulch, about nine miles northeast of Trinidad.  Work also included extending the acceleration lane from the Trinidad Corrections Facility, just north of the bridge.

Benefits: The new concrete box culvert – which replaced a structure rated in poor condition and functionally-obsolete – now provides a safer condition for drivers with wider shoulders and upgrades the state highway infrastructure.

  • U.S. 24 at Cascade & Florissant: State Highway 67 in Woodland Park – This $2 million CBE project replaced three-bridges: a 79-year-old structure over Fountain Creek on eastbound Highway 24 in Cascade, a 71-year-old timber bridge on Highway 67 over Loy Gulch, at the north end of Woodland Park, and a 73-year-old concrete structure over Twin Creek, one mile east of Florissant.

Benefits: Replaced aging infrastructure and provides a more efficient transportation system that helps supports for economic and job growth.

The sole purpose of the CBE is to finance, repair, reconstruct and replace bridges designated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and rated “poor.” In order to accomplish this, a bridge safety surcharge ranging from $13 to $32 has been imposed on vehicle registration based upon vehicle weight. Revenues from the bridge safety surcharge were phased in over a three-year period and are estimated to generate approximately $100 million in annual funding.

In addition, the CBE sold $300 million in Build America Bonds in December 2010 to partially or fully fund the completion of work on 81 bridges currently included in the program (there are currently some 130 bridges on the CBE list). The CBE accelerates work on these poor-rated bridges by making funding available now, thus greatly reducing potential hazards to the traveling public in an expeditious manner.

“While we have made tremendous progress on replacing and repairing poor bridges, we know our work isn’t over yet,” said CDOT Bridge Engineer Joshua Laipply. “With much of our highway system built in the 1950s and 1960s, more bridges will fall into the “poor” category in the coming months and years. However, with the CBE and a dedicated funding source, our state has the means to address this critical need.”

For more information on the CBE as well as a complete list and status of the CBE bridges, please visit http://www.coloradodot.info/programs/BridgeEnterprise.

GET WIRELESS NOTIFICATIONS:  If you would like to receive e-mail and/or wireless notifications about traffic and travel, as well as CDOT projects in the area, please go to CDOT’s website at www.coloradodot.info and select the green phone icon in the upper right corner.