WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4)- What was once thought to be a quick fix will now take much longer. U.S. 36 in Westminster, linking Boulder to Denver, will be closed for several days, possibly the entire week, while crews work to stop the eastbound lanes from sinking.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said the roadway was failing as a result of the clay below sliding. Heavy rain and snow this year were partially blamed. The slippage was causing the roadway to collapse, sinking at a rate of more than one inch per hour.
As a result, CDOT said the eastbound lanes would be completely closed near 104th, and crews were working on diverting traffic on to the westbound lanes.
"We recognize that it is inconvenient for travelers," said CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew.
Lew said a 300-foot-long crack morphed in to the massive portion of the highway collapsing in. The roadway is built more than 30 feet above the ground, which once served as a lake. Since being drained, the ground has absorbed the excess water from recent moisture.
"It is sort of like clay you would use for pottery, where when it gets wet it turns in to a slurry, where it loses structural stability," Lew said.
CDOT employees said their preliminary research showed the slippage was a process that has been evolving over the past few months, with micro fractures along the roadway recently discovered.
Lew said repairs could take much longer than the originally planned four days. She said the Flatiron Flyer would be free for those willing to ride on Monday and Tuesday.
"(Repairs are) going to require patience, and a little bit of creativity," Lew said. "Be patient with one another, and with the fact that travelers are on routes different than their regular commute. Ultimately, we appreciate people's patience, and safety comes first."
Drivers are urged to avoid the area or plan alternate routes in order to avoid the closure. CDOT's recommended detours include the Northwest Parkway (toll road) to I-25; and SH 93 to SH 58, connecting to I-70.
CDOT and RTD said they will be working to add additional buses to Flatiron Flyer routes when possible. These buses may not be marked as RTD vehicles, but staff will be onsite to make sure passengers get on the correct bus.
They also say RTD Park-N-Rides will be more crowded.
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