The Colorado Dept. of Transportation has been awarded $14 million to settle claims arising from damage to U.S. 36 north of Denver after part the highway collapsed in July 2019.

The section of the freeway that failed was only three years old at the time, part of a major highway upgrade completed in 2016 by a joint venture of Ames Construction and Granite Construction.

The settlement says the bulk of the award, $6 million, will be paid by the Ames-Granite JV, with $4 million coming from HDR, the lead designer on the U.S. 36 project, and another $4 million from Kleinfelder Inc., one of the project engineers.

The agreement, which was reached earlier this summer, was first made public on Aug. 6.

The settlement document prohibits CDOT and the other parties from commenting on the final agreement but also assigns no blame for the incident. There were no injuries or accidents in the highway collapse.

The money will reimburse CDOT for most of the $17.6 million in emergency repairs to the highway, which were done by Kraemer North America on a CM/GC contract and took three months to complete.

According to CDOT, repairs included demolishing the collapsed highway segment, removing debris, drilling caissons and installing a new concrete and steel support structure.

The $3.5 million in costs not covered in the settlement included charges for the accelerated repair schedule and other materials, such as the geofoam blocks the agency elected to add to provide better structural support.

Exact Cause Still Unknown

The eastbound lanes of U.S. 36 were closed July 11, 2019, after a large crack appeared in the pavement. Transportation officials speculated at the time that a key bridge spanning a railway about halfway between Denver and Boulder may have been damaged by settling soils after heavy rains in the area.

That section of the highway runs near several wetlands, and the north side of Denver metro area is plagued by the presence of heavy clay content in the soils. However, the full investigation into the cause is not yet complete and could be released as early as mid-August.

The U.S. 36 Boulder Turnpike Express Lanes project was touted as the first multimodal transportation corridor in the state. The $350-million project created new toll and HOV express lanes, a bikeway and bus-rapid-transit (BRT) service from Boulder to Denver.