Steamboat Springs Transportation officials have identified $1.3 million for rockfall mitigation work along a dangerous section of U.S. Highway 40 through the Mount Harris Canyon between Steamboat Springs and Hayden.
“Hopefully this will solve the problem and make it safer for everyone,” Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said Wednesday.
Engineering and planning work already has started, and construction is expected to take place this spring in the area near mile marker 115.
“The long-range plan needs a little work, but work will start in the spring,” said Mitsch Bush, who also is chairwoman of the Northwest Transportation Planning Region.
Rockfalls in the Mount Harris Canyon section of U.S. 40 have caused one fatality and several accidents in the past two years. This past spring, there were several incidents of car-sized boulders crashing onto the roadway. The Colorado Department of Transportation took notice and began working on a long-term solution.
The issues have continued late this fall, with at least two incidents in the past two weeks of rocks falling onto the road. One of the incidents occurred two weeks ago and one day after CDOT workers had scaled the cliff to bring down loose rocks, CDOT spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said. Some fallen rocks were reported again Tuesday evening.
As part of routine maintenance, CDOT workers have historically climbed the cliff in the fall and spring to remove lose rocks. The $1.3 million will go toward a more permanent solution.
Work in the spring will involve anchoring vinyl-coated chain-link fencing materials to poles driven into the soil high on a steep hillside above the highway to contain falling rocks and prevent them from reaching the road.
Mohr said the project is being paid for with funds from the federal Hazard Elimination System, a state rockfall fund and Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery legislation, known as FASTER. FASTER dollars are collected from increased vehicle registration fees.
— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com