Polis Administration to invest $45 million to restore roads after especially harsh winter

News Release

April 20, 2023 - Colorado - Funds for snow and ice removal for the remainder of the winter season, and to address pavement problems that reflect the unusually severe conditions over the past several months

Statewide — The Colorado Department of Transportation is redoubling efforts to improve road conditions after one of the most intense winters in recent decades has damaged some roads beyond what they normally sustain each year. Earlier today, CDOT received an additional $45 million from the Transportation Commission of Colorado to fund snow and ice removal for the remainder of the winter season and to address pavement problems that reflect the unusually severe conditions over the past several months.

$19.6 million will fund snow and ice control above and beyond the $84 million base budget for these operations and a $12 million reserve fund that has been exhausted. $25 million will support projects to address critical pavement conditions across the state such as permanent repair of potholes. Locations for these projects are currently being identified by CDOT maintenance and engineering teams as they assess impacts of the winter season, and CDOT intends to use a combination of in-house maintenance operations and emergency contracting to perform the work.

“Colorado’s strong winter snowpack has helped grow our economy, support jobs and our world-class ski resorts but we also need to address the consequences of a challenging winter to ensure that our roads remain safe and reliable for drivers and our economy as the weather warms up. We are making it a priority to fix potholes on state roads after a tough winter,” said Gov. Jared Polis.

The 2022-23 winter season is projected to wind up as the third or fourth snowiest winter in the last 50 years. The statewide snowpack is averaging 150% of normal as the 32nd tracked winter storm is currently affecting the high country. Winter snowfall was well above average both west of the Continental Divide and over the far northeast plains. Snowfall in the high mountains has been especially large. Remote weather stations at Columbine Pass (Uncompahgre Plateau), Park Reservoir (Grand Mesa), Tower (Park Range), and Wolf Creek Pass all measured liquid precipitation above 40 inches since October; this equates to roughly 400-600 inches or more of snow.

In addition to the impressive snowfall amounts, this season’s October - March period is the coldest since 2010. March 2023 was the fifth consecutive month with below-average temperatures and the coldest March since 1970. Arctic cold outbreaks affected the state in November, December, January, and February, and two-day temperature swings in both December and February neared all-time records on the Front Range.

“CDOT has taken on one of the harshest winters in memory, and I want to thank the men and women who logged nearly a million miles more than they usually do in our plows to keep roads clear. As we see the winter season through to its end, we are looking to quickly address road surface quality, whether it be potholes or more severe damage sustained over the winter,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew.

CDOT is currently tracking unusual damage in several places such as several segments of US-40. Along I-70, several areas including recently repaved portions near Vail Pass were damaged this winter due to the extent of snow and ice as well as related factors like extensive wear and tear by commercial vehicles utilizing chains to travel in conditions requiring traction law. Over the coming weeks, CDOT’s maintenance teams across the state will be helping to identify segments of roadway under their purview that have worsened over the winter. They will also be advising leadership on which segments of repair can be completed in-house.

As temperature fluctuations continue, the department expects to identify additional needs that go beyond the normal seasonal wear and tear that the state experiences. The $25 million investment in road surface treatment will allow CDOT to address these urgent issues without having to delay any planned projects that are scheduled to be constructed in the coming months.

The Transportation Commission approved the transfer of funds at its April meeting, and all funds were drawn from the commission’s program reserve fund. CDOT staff will be updating the commission at future meetings about the details of the activities and roads that will receive this funding.