Photo by Matt Stensland
Part of Routt County Road 76 near Hayden is down to one lane because of a slide and runoff that has caused the road to deteriorate.
Hayden Cog Road is on a downhill slide.
The edge of Routt County Road 76 crumbles every year as mud tumbles down from the snow bank above and water flows across, county Road and Bridge Director Paul Draper said. But this year, the erosion dips more into the middle of the road, making a half-moon shape, he said.
A section of the outside lane fell 2 to 3 feet, and the county has marked it with signs and cones and tried to fill the fallen section with gravel.
Neighbors are worried.
"When you go by there, you have to grit your teeth and say, 'Please let me get through,'" said Dana Wheelock, who lives at the top of the road.
She said the road is the worst it's been in the 12 years she's lived there.
The two lanes have been cut to one for several car lengths. Draper said the problem likely was to continue until the snow has finished melting and the road can be repaired.
Adding a guardrail and shoring C.R. 76, which runs between a hillside and a drop-off to a valley, could be costly, he said. It costs $20,000 a year to maintain the slide area, and a full repair could cost $1.5 million, he said.
The county doesn't have any plans for C.R. 76 besides its usual slide repair, Draper said. Wheelock said she worries about the buses that use the road daily.
"I don't know how the school buses are even getting through there," she said. Her 18-year-old son, Zed, doesn't ride the bus. But Wheelock warns him to be careful.
"We tell him, 'When you come around, when you're going down, be creeping, because one of these days when you're coming around, it's going to be gone,'" she said of the road.
County road officials have gotten energy impact grants to fix two other slide-prone roads in the area, Draper said. Those will address slide areas on C.R. 37 about three miles south of Hayden and on C.R. 27 between the Twentymile mine and Oak Creek.
His worry for C.R. 37 was similar to Wheelock's worry about C.R. 76.
"Our real concern on (C.R.) 37 is that we'll drive out and it'll be gone," he said. That road has a far steeper drop-off than the Cog Road, and a creek runs along the bottom of the drop.
He said the county monitors conditions daily on C.R. 76 and other roads. The road and bridge agency must balance cost with need when it looks for money for repairs. For now, options for C.R. 76 are limited, Draper said.
"We could close it, and people could go around on (C.R.) 78 back to Elkhead Reservoir," he said. "It's just a long way around."
Wheelock said that solution wouldn't be acceptable.
"With gas prices, if you have a diesel, at almost $5 a gallon, it's going to kill us financially," she said.