OURAY COUNTY – Motorists should plan on at least one more overnight road closure on U.S. 550 Red Mountain Pass, as Colorado Department of Transportation contractor Midwest Rockfall finishes up a project to repair two outdated retaining walls on a sheer, exposed stretch of highway near the turnoff for Engineer Pass (not far from mile post 90).
Two overnight closures have already occurred – on July 12 and again on July 17 – to allow workers to make uninterrupted progress on the project. The worksite is not far from milepost 90, along a stretch of highway known as the Ruby Walls. The remaining scheduled overnight closure is for July 23, when the pass will be closed 8 p.m.-6 a.m.
Depending on how the project progresses during this latest announced closure, the contractor will determine whether any additional overnight closures are necessary to complete the job. A total of six closures are allowed under the terms of Midwest Rockfall’s contract with CDOT, but the contractor does not anticipate needing to use all of them, said CDOT Public Relations Specialist Nancy Shanks.
CDOT engineers have identified “at least a couple dozen” cribwalls on Red Mountain Pass that are in need of repair – many of which are over 50 years old. CDOT will be working progressively to repair them all over the next several years, Shanks said.
“The ones that are there now weren’t engineered to current specifications,” she explained. “Nothing was falling away, but it was definitely time to get this done.”
The new cribwall structures sandwich waffle-like geogrid material and layers of earth within wire baskets that are bolted into place and secured with a horizontal front. Each structure will be finished off with bolting timber to give it an aesthetically pleasing look that fits in with the historic nature of the highway.
Improved drainage structures are also being incorporated into the project.
CDOT is conducting several other projects in the area this summer, including bridge replacements in Ridgway and Placerville, and a paving project in Telluride.
The Red Mountain cribwall project should be completed by late September, Shanks said. Until this time, motorists will encounter single-lane, alternating traffic between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. There is no weekend work. Motorists should also expect to encounter periodic full traffic holds in both directions of up to 15 minutes during work hours. Actual delay times will vary depending upon traffic volumes.
For information on this project, call Midwest Rockfall, Inc.’s Public Information Manager Filiberto Marquez, at (970) 462-1529. Information on other CDOT projects statewide can be accessed on the Internet at cotrip.org/.