Family Dedicates Bridge to Former Colorado Department of Highways Employee

June 7, 2018 - Bridge has survived two major floods in the Big Thompson Canyon

Dick Jensen

Dick Jensen

STATEWIDE—On Wednesday, May 30, 2018, a bridge off US Highway 34 in Drake, Colo., that hovers above the Big Thompson River was dedicated to Richard "Dick" Jensen, who worked with the then Colorado Department of Highways for nearly 32 years. Jensen passed away on Jan. 28, 2018, exactly 32 years from the day he retired from CDOH.

As a way to pay tribute to his legacy, his family came together on what would have been his 88th birthday to dedicate a bridge he built.

Jensen began working for CDOH in maintenance on April 1, 1954, in Fort Morgan. Later on, Jensen became a supervisor for the bridge crew, a role in which he built and repaired many bridges in northern Colorado.

"He took great pride in the bridges he worked on," said Stacia Sellers, CDOT Denver Metro area communications manager and Jensen's granddaughter. "My grandfather liked to tease that he knew better than his engineers and pushed to build a bridge that would connect a maintenance shed to US 34, which would help improve operations. He was finally able to follow through on his vision and built that bridge with his crews in 1974. This became the bridge he was most proud of, especially because it has survived two major floods in the Big Thompson Canyon."

Members of the Jensen family dedicate a plaque

Members of Dick Jensen's family gather to dedicate one of the bridges he helped build.

Jensen was involved with crews that built several maintenance buildings in his district, and also helped build two roadside parks and repaired others. Among his many contributions to the state of Colorado, Jensen also worked on roads and bridges all the way to the Nebraska state line that were damaged by the flood of 1965, as well as on roads damaged by the 1982 Lawn Lake Flood in Estes Park, and the Latham Lake Flood. Jensen received letters of thanks and commendation from Governors John Love, for work on the 1965 Flood, and Richard Lamm, for work on the Lawn Lake Flood.

"My grandfather loved working for the Department of Highways," said Sellers. "I think what he loved most, even above his prized bridges, was the people he got to work with and the close relationships he formed with Colorado State Patrol troopers."

Jensen's passion and dedication to the CDOH was instilled in him at a young age. His father, Albert R. Jensen, worked in maintenance from 1939 to 1964. Albert Jensen was best remembered for rescuing numerous people from the blizzard of 1949 and taking them to safety in the bed of his Coleman truck.

The family line of CDOH employees did not stop at Dick Jensen, however. Two of his sons began careers in CDOH maintenance in 1974 and 1978, both in different areas, and then eventually his granddaughter joined the family legacy in 2016. Aside from generations of the Jensen family, several of their extended family members also worked for CDOH and CDOT, one of whom was James Earl Trimble, who was killed by a motorist who was driving too fast in 1958 while Trimble was working.

Motorists can spot the memorial plaque on the bridge off US 34 at River Fork Road across from the U.S. Postal Service Office in Drake. The plaque, paid for by Jensen's 13 grandchildren, and installed by his three sons and grandson, is inscribed with a lasting note and true tribute to his character: "Love was his Foundation."

US 34 Bridge in Drake

A plaque bearing former Colorado Department of Highways employee Dick Jensen adorns the bridge on US 34 in Drake that he helped build.