All Photographs by Hazel Choa Smith
Grand Opening of 2nd Avenue Bridge, Thursday, July 8.
Nicholas Angelo, Mayor ==Welcome and Opening Comments
POEM == Listen to the Rivers Poem, Reading by poet Vance French
Senator John Hickenlooper ==Let’s Continue to Work Towards Resilient Colorado
POEM == Tributaries of Strength, by Sara Olson, Reading by Kathleen Baer
Congressman Joe Neguse ==Wildfire Preparation & Disaster Mitigation
Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera Colorado Legislature ==2021 Update
Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin ==ARPA and Boulder County Impact
Victoria Simonsen, Town Administrator ==Recognition of Contributors
Bridge dedication to Jim Blankenship, ==JLB Engineering
Ribbon Cutting and Opening == Flood Recovery Manager Tracy Sanders.
With special thanks to: FEMA (US Dept. of Homeland Security), DHSEM, DOLA, CDBG-DR, and Boulder County Collaborative, CO Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management (Dept. of Public Safety).
SEE LYONS RECORDER PREVIEW ARTICLE, WHICH DETAILS THE HISTORY OF THE DAMAGE AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE BRIDGE: https://lyonsrecorder.org/2021/07/02/2nd-avenue-bridge-grand-opening/
Opening Remarks by Town Mayor Nick Angelo
Welcome everyone who have joined us for the celebration of the completion of the Second Ave. bridge and dedication to Jim Blankenship, whose vision has been realized.
At this time, I would like to acknowledge our esteemed guests…
Senator John Hickenlooper who as Governor took us under his wing when we were wounded and helped to heal us in every way possible. Thank you, Sir, the Town of Lyons will be forever grateful for your kindness.
Congressman Joe Naguse. We appreciated your last visit to Lyons Sir, you were very generous with your time. Many of us appreciate the intellect that you exhibit in your various roles as our Congressman. It is indeed refreshing to see you participate in & introduce bi-partisan legislation as well.
Representing the Governor – Lt. Governor Dianne Primevera who is a leading patient advocate who has fought for decades so that all Coloradan’s can have access to quality, affordable health care. She was the CEO of one of the largest organizations dedicated to breast cancer prevention, treatment, research & education. She now takes on the responsibilities of our Lt. Governor.
Governor Jared Polis, who led us successfully through the COVID crisis, communicated comprehensively and often to alleviate fear. His leadership allowed the state to open up more quickly & safely. Please thank Governor Polis from all of us and send along my personal regards.
Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin. After participating in an anti-racist event together in Lyons, I know of her deep commitment to equality for all, everyone. She is also dedicated to education and helping to craft solutions to affordable housing. She is actively participating in wildfire mitigation opportunities among her other responsibilities as Commissioner.
Commissioner Claire Levy whose main issues and dedication to solving or improving include affordable Housing, Mental Health Treatment and Criminal Justice Reform.
Thanks to all of you for taking this opportunity to join us.
The original 2nd Ave bridge was to be a temporary bridge, but over 40 years later it took the brunt of the floodwaters for several days and a direct hit by a huge log to one of its key structural supports. Jim (Blankenship) insisted that, NO, we weren’t going to repair a temporary bridge, we were going to build a properly engineered bridge that could withstand any future flood event, a prescient decision indeed.
Including the 2nd Ave bridge, we managed 108 flood projects along with grant applications and requirements that totaled 75 million dollars. Our Staff are a team, a great team, but I’m going to take this opportunity to acknowledge two members of our team individually.
Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen, who was thrust into a disaster mode she never could have imagined. She responded brilliantly in administrating both the obligation of the grants and overseeing the completion of each project.
Flood Recovery Manager Tracy Sanders. Let’s just take the 2nd Ave bridge as on example of her capabilities. There were reasons the project was delayed, specifications changed, cost rose, there were issues with adjourning properties that had to be negotiated late in the process. Yet, the project was completed on time, during the COVID crisis. This is just one example of how brilliant she is as well.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to these two individuals for their unwavering dedication to the Town of Lyons.
Closing Remarks by Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen
What a glorious morning! I know you are probably getting restless and hot, but please hang in there a few more minutes.
I would like to thank our distinguished guests for traveling to Lyons for this special occasion. We appreciate your assistance over the years and the support that we know is still forthcoming. We are grateful that you are our partners on this journey.
A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus once said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man.”
How poignant. This is not the same river….We are not the same persons that we were in 2013. Hopefully, we are all better and stronger.
Knowing that “A good bridge is not built overnight.”
There are still many people that need to be recognized for helping us get to this stage of our recovery – too many to name individually (I know I would miss a few) but still need to be credited for their contributions: Please raise your hands as I call your name or agency.
——————-Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA said it would take 6-10 years for our recovery. We said, “no way”. We can do it in four”. You were right. Congratulations as Lyons closes out DR 4145.
Specifically, Roger Jones, Steve Hardegan, Rick Streily, Charlie Bellos
Thank you for your guidance through this disaster response and recovery.
——————-Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Kevin Kline, Michael Haney, Ted Lucero and Natalie Miklas
Your support and patience are appreciated more than you can ever know.
——————-Department of Local Affairs
Chantal Unfung, Don Sandoval, Chris LaMay and Robert Thompson
For being our link to the State and Feds over the years and providing for our critical staffing needs
——————-Housing and Urban Development – CDBG-DR and the Boulder County Collaborative
Rick Garcia, Dave Bowman, Kathy Fedler, Molly O’Donnell, Kyndra Daniels, Michelle Krezek, the Boulder County Commissioners, and our other municipal partners. Your generosity and assistance have invaluable. Thank you for your camaraderie and partnership to get us through these challenging times.
——————-The contractors and CDOT for this magnificent, first-of-it’s kind, bridge (with nine 139’ concrete girders)
The primary: Zak Dirt, and their subs Kumar & Associates, Rocksol, and Otak
——————-To the neighbors who tolerated the construction over the past many months.
And of course, our former and current elected officials who trusted staff to get the job done.
And a special thank you to our flood recovery team over the years: Particularly, Tracy Sanders, Erika Archer, Philip Strom, Tony Cavalier and the numerous staff that supported their efforts over the past eight years.
The town simply could not have recovered on its own. It actually took a village. Thank you, everyone, for your individual and collective contributions to this milestone. We did it Lyons! The silver lining that we envisioned eight years ago while standing drenched in Sandstone Park has become a reality. We have built back stronger and more resilient than anyone could have imagined. Let’s celebrate by dedicating this bridge and cutting a ribbon!
=====2nd Avenue Bridge Dedication / Jim Blankenship=====
Jen, Dan, Ben, Owen, Andrew, other family members…. Please come forward.
We stand here on this beautiful summer day. All of us for different reasons. To some it is the street finally reopening, and for others it is the end of a project. But likely, this magnificent structure, is also symbolic:
• Bridging the past and the future
• Demonstrating the strength of community
• Re-connecting two neighborhoods.
• Rebuilding more resilient, or maybe
• The end of a story: whether it’s been a drama, an adventure, or a love story.
Whatever your reason for being here, we are glad you have joined us. For today, we get the privilege to honor the man who made it a possibility, Jim Blankenship. Jim was our town engineer for nearly 20 years. He knew our water, wastewater, storm water and street systems as well as the people who installed them. For ten years, I counted on Jim for nearly everything related to our town’s infrastructure.
The town had 14 staff when the 2013 flood devastated our community; only four of which lived in town. Resources were minimal, our mayor was out of town, and no one had foreseen such a significant event. Jim was determined to get into town despite most of the area being under water. He arrived by high-water vehicle, riding along with the National Guard, like a knight in shining armor. He worked around the clock. And honestly, I’m not sure when he went home. Every time I turned around, he was always there, helping to figure out a solution to the next problem.
Our entire community was evacuated for eight weeks. During that time, Jim was devoted to helping assess the damage and determine how to restore temporary water and wastewater services so our residents could come home. Jim was my right arm during those early days. I trusted his opinions, his ideas, and his work. I simply could not have done it without him.
Next came the arduous process of federal funding and paperwork. Jim was meticulous with the details. I could count on him to document everything FEMA wanted. I never had to worry about his thoroughness. Over the next five years, he helped us juggle nearly 90 grants and dozens of federal projects. Never raising his fees.
In 2017, he earned the Colorado Chapter of the American Public Works Association’s Engineer of the Year for Small Communities. He certainly earned that title.
Jim worked tirelessly with the mitigation specialists of FEMA to ensure that this bridge wasn’t simply repaired following the flood but insisted that it be replaced; higher and without piers, to keep our infrastructure, and our residents, safe in the next flood disaster.
He was not only an excellent engineer, but also a dedicated, fun colleague. His sense of humor got us through many stressful times. His love of the foothills of Lyons became his playground after a hard day’s work. Jim loved to mountain bike Hall Ranch, Heil Ranch, and Picture Rock. That is why we chose this view for his memorial.
Two years have passed since Jim lost his battle with cancer. The staff at town hall still use his name regularly and search his files for answers about an easement, the floodplain, or waterline that he was so familiar with. Jim was extended family to the staff at town hall, and he is still missed by those of us who worked with him.
Jim was a man of integrity. He was smart, honest, and committed. His significant contributions will be imprinted in our community for many years to come. Although most of you probably cannot see it, our infrastructure (that we take for granted every day) was rebuilt on his shoulders. We hope this dedication will express our gratitude for his service and honor his memory for the life of this impermeable bridge.
Earlier this week, Mayor Nick Angelo read a proclamation into the formal record recognizing the contributions of James L. Blankenship and JLB Engineering by dedicating the Reconstructed 2nd Avenue Bridge in his memory.
And to keep this light…. Like many materials today, the bronze plaque that will be placed here permanently has been delayed. (Jim would actually find that pretty funny). We hope you will take time on your next walk across the bridge to stop and appreciate it and the sacrifices he and his family made to our community following the Front Range Flood of 2013. Thank you.
Now let’s cut the ribbon and open this bridge. Refreshments to follow in the Bohn Park pavilion. Thank you for joining us today – Thank you for being part of the story.
James Blankenship: He had a 30 plus year career as a civil engineer, consulting on many projects near and far. Starting his own firm, JLB Civil, nearly 20 years ago, Jim had an excellent reputation for providing high quality engineering services and was highly regarded by all that knew and worked with him. During this time, he also served at the town engineer for the Town of Lyons. Jim was recognized by the American Public Works Association, Colorado Chapter, in 2010 for his engineering and construction management services for the Town of Lyons Main Street Project, and again in 2017 as the Professional Manager of the Year for his services to the Town of Lyons flood recovery and restoration.