Eastbound US 36 Emergency Rebuild Project moves into permanent construction phase

August 15, 2019 - Denver Metro Area, Colorado

WESTMINSTER – As of this week, the Eastbound US 36 Emergency Rebuild Project is moving into the rebuild phase of the half-mile stretch of eastbound US 36 between Wadsworth Boulevard and 104th/Church Ranch Boulevard. This rebuild phase comes after several weeks of nonstop work to clear away the damaged road section; crews with CDOT’s contracted partner, Kraemer North America, worked to remove the damaged retaining wall, the concrete roadway on top, and prepare the area for permanent reconstruction. 

Before wall removal began, CDOT crews worked around the clock to shift two eastbound lanes on the westbound side, with a concrete barrier separating the east and westbound lanes to create a stable interim traffic pattern in this section of US 36. 

“Since the outset of this event, CDOT and our partners have worked together to respond rapidly, provide consistent operations on US 36 for travelers during construction, and work towards long-term repair as efficiently as possible,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “We thank the project team for their hard work, our neighbors in Westminster for their support in mobilizing the construction site, and the traveling public for their continued patience and attention to safety.” 

“We are pleased to begin the rebuild phase of this section of eastbound US 36, and we look forward to getting traffic along this stretch back to normal as soon as possible,” said CDOT Chief Engineer Joshua Laipply.

Immediately upon formation, the CDOT design team, along with Kraemer and consultant experts David Evans and Associates Inc. and RJ Engineering, began to focus on developing technical designs for the project. Through this process, the safest and most effective method for the rebuild was determined. 

The rebuilt section of US 36 will include drilling caissons down into the bedrock and placing a material called geofoam behind the retaining wall in place of the previous existing backfill. Geofoam is a lightweight backfill that has been used effectively in similar situations with settlement. Since geofoam is lightweight, it reduces pressure and stress to the underlying soil. It is also very strong, which means it can safely support highway loading and also lead to improved slope stability. Of the different options considered, this provides the best factor of safety. The geofoam is being produced by Insulfoam, which has a local plant in Aurora. 

“I am confident that this design team - with careful consideration and expertise - has determined the best solution to create a permanent fix that is safe for the traveling public,” said Region 1 Transportation Director Paul Jesaitis. “This project team has worked diligently and put in countless hours to ensure safety is the top priority. We thank all motorists for their patience during this project, and we ask residents to continue driving with caution through the traffic shift as the rebuild phase begins."

During this construction phase, crews will work up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 12-hour shifts to complete this emergency rebuild project safely and efficiently. The traffic shift implemented on July 16, shifting two lanes of EB traffic onto the WB side of US 36 in this area, will remain in place throughout the construction timeline. Traffic is anticipated to return to normal conditions by October, which is weather permitting and subject to change.   

US 36 remains safe to travel on and the site is being monitored at all times. Surveys have shown there continues to be no movement on the westbound side, and it is stable and safe for traffic. Weekly progress updates about the rebuild phase will be sent out as the project moves forward. 

 US 36 workers 8-15-19.jpg

Background and Timeline:

July 11-12 - A crack started to develop along eastbound US 36 on a section of roadway between Wadsworth Boulevard and 104th/Church Ranch Boulevard. CDOT quickly organized maintenance and engineering crews, as well as contractors, for emergency repairs of the crack that formed along the 200-foot section of the roadway.  This portion of eastbound US 36 was closed Friday afternoon, with traffic diverted to the shoulder to keep one lane open. 

Approximately 9:00 p.m. Friday, July 12 - The full closure of this portion of the roadway began as CDOT crews evaluated the damage to determine the right repairs. CDOT engineers used ground penetrating radar to examine the soil under the road and found a void in the road base between 150 and 200 feet long and about 10 feet wide. CDOT maintenance crews removed concrete paving panels from the roadway in preparation for deep drilling through the embankment to better identify both the magnitude and cause of this void.

Saturday, July 13 until until Monday, July 15 - CDOT and contractors continued emergency work. The large cracks developed into a sink hole as the roadway shifted, with significant damage to the retaining wall under the road. CDOT began work to bring a construction contractor in to rebuild this section of eastbound US 36. In the meantime, CDOT crews continued working on an interim traffic configuration to open travel lanes for eastbound traffic. 

In order to provide another option for the traveling public, CDOT offered free travel on RTD's Flatiron Flyer and LD bus routes, in both directions, on Monday and Tuesday, July 15 and 16. 

Before the morning rush hour on Tuesday, July 16 -  CDOT and contract crews completed work to open two eastbound lanes on US 36 near Wadsworth Blvd., 24 hours ahead of schedule. Crews shifted two eastbound lanes on the westbound side with a concrete barrier separating the east- and westbound lanes. This is a stable interim traffic pattern that will be sustainable until eastbound US 36 is rebuilt. 

Overnight July 16 into Wednesday morning, July 17 - Both directions of US 36 were closed from 104th/Church Ranch Boulevard to Wadsworth Boulevard for several hours to move a fiber optic cable that serves multiple local entities. This work was successfully completed by 3 a.m. July 17. 

Wednesday, July 17 - CDOT established a design team and selected a contractor, Kraemer North America, to rebuild the damaged section of eastbound US 36. 

Thursday, July 18- Design meetings began.

Friday, July 19- Tuesday, August 13- Crews from Kraemer North America removed the damaged retaining wall and the concrete pavement from above the wall and prepared the site for rebuild. 

Overnight Monday- Wednesday, August 5-6- Crews installed glare screen on the temporary concrete barrier of the traffic shift to reduce headlight glare and increase nighttime visibility for drivers along the corridor.  

Wednesday, August 14- Removal of damaged wall is complete and rebuild begins.


  • The roadway started to crack July 11-12 and the cracks got significantly worse as the roadway shifted, causing the part of the road to cave in and the retaining wall to fall apart. 

  • The westbound side and adjacent bridge in the area are safe and in good condition. The bridge has its own support system entirely, with a steel concrete foundation that goes deep into the bedrock. The bridge has been separated from the damaged section of the roadway by CDOT’s bridge crew. 

  • The damage is isolated to a specific area of eastbound US 36.

  • In an abundance of caution, the survey team continues to monitor the damaged section of roadway. Surveys show there continues to be no movement on the westbound side. It is stable and safe for traffic.

  • The bike path over the railroad bridge is also closed for safety reasons. A detour is in place. 

  • The new traffic shift is in place on the westbound side. The Express Lane and shoulder in this area are operating as general purpose lanes for eastbound traffic (No tolls are applied to this section, but Express Lanes are operating as normal outside of the traffic configuration)

  • Travel in this area will be slower than usual, so motorists are advised to expect some delays and give themselves extra time when traveling the corridor during peak periods.