Major crack closes U.S. Highway 36 in Colorado

No timeline for when it will reopen

By Ryan Osborne

WESTMINSTER, Colo. - Two days after cracks developed on the eastbound lanes of U.S. 36 in Westminster, Colorado, the roadway was still shifting Monday and officials had no timeline on when it would re-open.

The closure at Wadsworth Boulevard has delayed and detoured traffic from Boulder to Denver, and the delays should continue into the work week, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

U.S. 36 buckled and cracked on Friday morning and shut down the eastbound lanes of the highway. Josh Laipply, CDOT's chief engineer, described the problem as a "pretty large slope failure," in which the soil beneath the road settled and shifted and caused the highway to buckle.

When engineers examined the soil under the road on Friday night, they found a large void in the road's base, between 150-200 feet long and about 10 feet wide.

Crews over the weekend were working to stabilize the soil by drilling concrete caissons into the ground, Laipply said, but the soil continued to shift and settled, making the repair process difficult.

Laipply said Saturday that CDOT might be able to open the inside shoulder of the highway, but he advised against making plans to drive on the road. Laipply recommended that drivers take State Highway 7 or State Highway 93 out of Boulder. Officials recommended drivers give themselves at least a half hour of extra time to get to their destinations.

On Monday, crews were working to get a traffic diversion set up so that eastbound traffic would be able to use the westbound shoudler and Express Lane, but CDOT said that work might not be finished until Wednesday. Officials said the westbound side of the bridge is safe and in good condition.

CDOT also said that permitted oversize loads are now prohibited between E. Flatiron Crossing Drive and Westminster Boulevard until further notice.

CDOT officials said they're not yet sure of the cost of repairs or where the funding will come from; right now they're focused on getting the roadway restored.

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