The Utah Department of Transportation has applied for federal funds to cover the cost of temporarily rebuilding a portion of U-14 near Cedar Breaks National Monument that was ripped apart by a mud slide last month.
Work on the popular tourist road could be under waybefore UDOT gets word on the federal emergency funds that would pay 100 percent of the estimated $500,000 to $750,000 cost.Next Tuesday, bids will be opened for the contract to construct a temporary road over the slide debris. The March 27 disaster destroyed a half-mile of the highway about eight miles east of Cedar City.
"We're going to have to go over the slide," said UDOT spokesman Kim Morris. It's not like there's a pile of dirt on the road. What used to be the road is someplace farther down."
There is also concern that trying to remove the debris could trigger further slides. State geologists noted that there was additional movement after the early morning slide.
Just how traffic is going to be routed over the mess is still up in the air. Some eight contractors expected to bid on the project have been given a tour of the site and could come up with eight different ideas, Morris said.
And there are some who have looked at the gap in the narrow canyon highway and decided there is no way to repair the damage. UDOT has still not decided whether the road should ultimately be realigned.
"We think there's a way to get a safe, temporary road across," Morris said. He said a decision on what to do about the road permanently will be made once the temporary road construction is under way.
The road should be completed in early summer, in time to serve as a link between U.S. 89 and I-15 for summer tourists. It also connects residents of several small communities with Cedar City.
The federal emergency funds, if awarded to the state, are for temporary work. They could only be used to pay for reconstruction taking place within 90 days of the disaster.
While the road will be temporarily rebuilt with or without federal assistance, Morris said the emergency funds would keep UDOT from using money already designated for another project.