Boulder County officials are working with the Federal Highway Administration on design and funding strategies for $44 million worth of flood-related projects, including what could be a $30 million reconstruction effort on Lefthand Canyon Drive.
Tim Swope, Boulder County's capital projects planner, said Tuesday there are 19 roadways in the county that were damaged by the flood and qualify as federal-aid roads. That designation means that following emergencies such as the flood, the Federal Highway Administration will step in to provide up to 82 percent of the funding for qualified repair work.
All told, the 19 projects are expected to cost about $44 million.
Rebuilding Lefthand Canyon Drive between U.S. 36 and Ward is by far the most costly, with a budget estimated in the $25 million to $30 million range.
Rebuilding the East County Line Road bridge over St. Vrain Creek is expected to cost $6 million, and rebuilding the Sunset Street bridge across the St. Vrain, between Third and Boston avenues in Longmont, is expected to cost between $2 million and $3 million.
Work could begin on the Sunset Street bridge late this year and be completed in 2015, according to Longmont officials, but Lefthand Canyon Drive has the potential to take longer.
"Lefthand Canyon Drive is the only federal-aid road that Boulder County has in the mountains," Swope said. "We've completed the temporary winter road, but design of the final paved road has a lot of challenges, including the logistics of just how you build the road and permitting."
Swope said county officials and representatives of the Federal Highway Administration and Colorado Department of Transportation have begun the "conceptual design phase" of the project, and the $30 million figure is a rough ballpark figure.
"The sections that were damaged are only a portion of the road, however, they are all the portions that are extremely susceptible to flood damage, obviously, so what Boulder County has to do is figure out what the best way to repair them is," he said.
Though many of the bridges and concrete culverts along Lefthand Canyon Drive were OK following the flood, crossings at Spring Gulch Creek and Glendale Gulch require significant repairs, and the project team is considering how best to address them, Swope said.
"We're going to be under design and construction for a long time for all of our flood projects," he said. "A lot of it depends on what we find out during the design process and what kind of environmental conditions and permitting constraints we run into."
Swope noted that federal environmental permits, including those hinging on impacts to flood zones, wetlands and wildlife, will need to be acquired for Lefthand Canyon and other projects.
Jamestown Mayor Tara Schoedinger, whose western Boulder County community was completely cut off during the flood, thanks in part to Lefthand Canyon Drive washing out, said she is happy so many federal agencies have stepped up to offer assistance in the rebuilding process.
"Anything that helps us move this project along as quickly as possible helps not only the local communities but also the greater area communities that use this road for travel and tourism," she said.
Schoedinger credited county transportation crews for building the winter Lefthand Canyon road, plowing it and regrading it to keep it safe as the snow melts. Still, she said, a permanent road is ideal.
"It'll be substantially better when they do the permanent repairs," she said. "Permanent repairs are a sign of recovery."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or email@example.com.