US 550 SOUTH OF OURAY TO REMAIN CLOSED AT LEAST THROUGH WEEKEND

OURAY COUNTY – US 550 over Red Mountain Pass will remain closed at least through the weekend, due to continuous rockfall and the risk of more at MM 90, two miles south of Ouray. There is currently no estimate for a reopening of the pass beyond this weekend, though more will be known by Friday as mitigation work gets underway. Motorists are urged to stay updated by going to www.cotrip.org or signing up for road condition messaging through CDOT’s web site (see below).

ALTERNATE ROUTE:  The alternate routes are the following:  From Ouray to Durango (a distance of 70 miles using US 550) motorists will instead use SH 62 from Ridgway over Dallas Divide, SH 145 over Lizard Head Pass, then US 160, for a trip of 168 miles (a 98-mile detour). The average daily traffic count on Red Mountain Pass is 2,200.

Today, CDOT crews and rockfall contractor Yenter Companies assessed the sight, from land and from helicopter, and the decision was made to keep the highway closed until loose rock can be removed.

“We do not have easy alternate routes here in southwest Colorado and there is a hardship any time we close this pass,” CDOT Region 5 Transportation Director Kerrie Neet said. “It’s important for travelers and surrounding communities to know we don’t make these decisions lightly; we base them on the safety of the traveling public, as well as our workers.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday) San Miguel Power will remove the downed power pole as well as loose wire on the mountainside. Thursday and Friday, Yenter Companies plan to conduct work to bring the loose rock down from 900 feet above the roadway—more details on Yenter’s work will be provided at that time.

Incident History/Updates Sent:

Tuesday morning update (January 14) The road remained closed overnight and rubble has continued to cascade down the mountainside in this location. Rocks have been up to 6 inches in diameter and they covered the road for about 200 feet; they are falling from about 900 feet above the roadway.

Monday, January 13, US 550 Red Mtn. Pass closed again at 12:40 p.m.:  More rock has come down, closing the road again. CDOT Maintenance Deputy Superintendent and Resident Engineer are en route to assess. Maintenance crews are monitoring and currently more rocks are coming down; it is undetermined at this point when the highway will reopen; it could remain closed overnight, pending assessment. More details to come.

Sunday, January 12, US 550 Red Mtn. Pass closed from 7:30 p.m. to 9:11 p.m:  A great deal of rubble came down from about 900 feet above the highway; the biggest being was 2 feet in diameter. The deepest pile was 8′ deep. The rocks came took out a power line and CDOT does not have power to our snow shed or the Monument weather station.

For information on other CDOT projects, the public may call 511 or log onto CDOT’s traveler information web site at www.cotrip.org. Better yet, sign up to receive email and/or text messages by going to CDOT’s web site at www.coloradodot.info and choosing the green phone icon in the upper right corner.

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