Man says CDOT took dirt from his property

by Jonathan Adams

Keith Williams has a simple request for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The 89 year-old Fort Morgan resident says he wants his dirt back.

In 2013, the Colorado floods washed away Williams’ cabin in the Cedar Cove neighborhood, inside the Big Thompson Canyon. The flood left behind large deposits of sediment in its wake.

To help make emergency repairs on parts of Highway 34, CDOT brought in contractors, Kiewit, to remove the dirt deposits laid down by the Big Thompson. But, Williams says Kiewit dug too deep and removed four feet of his and other homeowners’ land, which left the ground barren with no base for grass or greenery.

“There nothing there anymore but rocks. About four feet of our land has disappeared.” Williams said.

Williams says he would like CDOT to return several feet of dirt to his property with the hopes that one day his grandchildren can rebuild their once treasured family vacation home.

“This is what we set aside for the grand kids and great grandkids. They’re ours and we wanted to take care of them.” He said.

Williams claims neither CDOT nor Kiewit asked permission to remove the dirt from his land and have yet to map out a plan to return it. He says he hopes CDOT comes up with a plan soon so he and other homeowners are no longer left in the dark.

“I would like them to tell me that they’ve got something planned that will satisfy all the people up there, not just me, but all the people there.” He said.

9News reached out to CDOT for comment. Spokesperson Jared Fiel issued this statement via email:

“Scott Ellis was the lead project manager on the 34 reconstruction project for CDOT. Very tragically, he died this summer.

Scott Ellis initially made contact with Mr. Williams back in March after Mark Peterson with Larimer County forwarded us a note that Mr. Williams attached to his property tax check wanting to know when CDOT was going to return the 4 feet of dirt that the contractors moved during the ER repairs. Scott also talked to Mr. Williams at the Resident Meeting we had at the Big Thompson Elementary School in May.

During the flood, the river drastically shifted to the North in this area and created a braided channel across several of the properties. In addition, there was a great amount of sediment in the Cedar Cove area that the river deposited. During the ER Repairs, Kiewit (the contractor for the emergency repairs and now for the permanent ones) cleared out the deposited sediment to help repair the roadway and also re-aligned the river channel to be closer to the pre-flood condition.

Scott told Mr. Williams that we would have to look further into it and that we would be planning to set up a meeting with him and other property owners in the area once we had some more design and were closer to construction. We do not have a great amount of design at this location yet, but we are planning to have a neighborhood meeting for this area soon, as there are several other concerned citizens in the Cedar Cove area.”

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