At the very lower left of this photo a vehicle can be seen on U.S. 550, where rocks continue to crash down on the highway. CDOT photo
By Mark Esper
U.S. 550 over Red Mountain Pass will remain closed at least through the weekend, highway officials say, due to continuous rockfall and the risk of more around mile marker 90, two miles south of Ouray.
The trouble began at about 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, as a large number of rocks began crashing down on the highway near the Ruby Falls, just south of Bear Creek Falls.
The highway was closed until after 9 p.m. Boulders as big as 2 feet in diameter piled as deep as eight feet. The rocks, falling from some 900 feet above the highway, took out a power line that cut off electricity to the Riverside Slide snow shed and a CDOT weather station.
On Monday, more rocks came down, breaking a couple of windshields and causing a motorist to get a flat tire before the highway was again closed at 12:40 p.m.
On Wednesday a San Miguel Power Association crew was working to remove a downed power pole and loose wire, even as rocks continued to “rain down” from hundreds of feet above, according to CDOT officials.
Today and Friday, rockfall contractor Yenter Companies of Arvada plans to drop a crew by helicopter to scale loose rock off. But highway officials say there is currently no estimate for reopening the pass beyond this weekend.
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