CDOT, Boulder working on joint statement for city’s flood work

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Photo by Wade Austin Ellis on Unsplash

Colorado Department of Transportation officials have given a “verbal agreement” to keep working with Boulder as the city attempts to construct a floodwall in the state right-of-way along U.S. 36, staff said during a March 5 briefing before council.

The state’s approval is needed to use the property — a linchpin of Boulder’s efforts to protect 3,500 residents downstream. Plans were thrown into doubt when staff revealed in early February that CDOT had not yet signed on.

CDOT has “verbally agreed to keep working together,” said senior project manager Molly Scarbrough. “This is a positive step in the right direction.”

Boulder has insisted that staff already received a verbal agreement from CDOT in the past, but employee turnover at both organizations threatened that accord. The city and CDOT are working on a joint statement, Scarbrough said.

Jared Fiel, a CDOT spokesperson, confirmed that.  When it will be released is still unknown, he said.

Scarbrough admitted Tuesday that there was a possibility that Boulder would fail to secure CDOT’s approval. If that happened, the floodwall would have to be built in open space, she suggested. It’s unclear if council or the community would support such a plan; much of the debate over which design to chose centered around impacts to open space from inundation and built structures.

Boulder’s Open Space Board of Trustees recommended to council that, for each acre of open space land required for ponding, three acres of open space be restored. In the Variant 1 design preferred by OSBT and ultimately selected by council, that would equal to 17.4 acres, at a cost of $1.74 million.

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