Steamboat Springs A rockfall prevention project for Mount Harris Canyon has been delayed about two weeks and is not expected to begin until April 1.
Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said CDOT was hoping the contractor would start working March 19 on the $1 million project that is expected to take four months to complete.
“We wanted to move forward with the long-term solution as soon as we could,” Mohr said. “The contractor is not going to be able to get out there as early as we would have liked.”
The goal of the project along areas of U.S. Highway 40 between mile markers 113 and 120 is to help prevent rocks from falling from the canyon walls onto the road below. Rockfall in the section of the highway between Steamboat and Hayden has killed one person and caused several accidents during the past two years. Yenter Companies is the contractor that has been hired to install vinyl-coated chain-link fence on portions of the cliff to prevent rocks from falling.
The construction delay was welcomed by some officials with Routt County, who were concerned construction could cause delays with traffic going to and from Yampa Valley Regional Airport. YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel wrote in an email that rockfall mitigation work in spring 2011 caused some delays for travelers.
The airport is particularly busy in late March as skiers head for spring break vacations in Steamboat.
“It will impact the ski season a little less,” Mohr said.
Once the construction project starts, Mohr said cars might have to wait as long 20 minutes.
“That’s only when they’ll actively be pulling rocks down,” she said.
Many motorists might not even notice the construction,” Mohr said, because crews will be working high on the canyon walls.
CDOT has set up a website (www.coloradodot.info/projects/MtHarrisCanyon) to provide regular updates about the project. People also can sign up to receive notifications.
Until construction starts, Mohr said CDOT workers will continue regular spring maintenance, which involves pulling down loose rocks. This time of year, the rocks shift because of the freeze-thaw cycle caused by spring temperature fluctuations.
Some rockfall was reported at about noon Tuesday, but it was nothing unusual, Mohr said.
“Nothing big, nothing threatening.”
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com