Traffic passes a Colorado Department of Transportation excavator Wednesday afternoon as it works along U.S. Highway 40 near Riverside Plaza. The crews were cleaning areas where dirt, rocks and mud have slipped behind the barriers.

Photo by John F. Russell

Traffic passes a Colorado Department of Transportation excavator Wednesday afternoon as it works along U.S. Highway 40 near Riverside Plaza. The crews were cleaning areas where dirt, rocks and mud have slipped behind the barriers.

Mount Harris Canyon rockfall project starts Monday

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— The Colorado Department on Transportation on Monday will start its major rockfall prevention project in Mount Harris Canyon west of Steamboat Springs.

CDOT spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said trucks carrying equipment for the $982,000 project will travel to mile markers 113 and 120 of U.S. Highway 40 on Monday, and that motorists traveling between Steamboat Springs and Hayden should start planning for possible traffic delays. Signs and electronic reader boards announcing the construction project already have been installed, and as soon as Tuesday, crews will start bringing down loose rocks from the steep cliffs along the highway.

Mohr said crews hope to limit traffic delays to a maximum of 20 minutes when workers are bringing down rocks. Construction is scheduled to run Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until August, and speed limits will be reduced through the canyon.

“We’re now on schedule,” Mohr said. “There are not many projects like this happening right now around the state, so we’re excited to start this one.”

Rock scaling will be the first phase of what CDOT has scheduled to be a four-month-long project that aims to make the roadway safer. Falling rocks in Mount Harris Canyon have killed one person and caused several accidents during the past two years.

Mohr said after the scaling is complete, crews will install a rockfall fence above the roadway, as well as wire mesh on some cliffs to prevent rocks and debris from falling onto the road. The fencing and netting will be a first for the canyon that historically has been mitigated only by rock scaling.

Motorists can check www.coloradodot.info/projects/MtHarrisCanyon for updates on the construction project and sign up to receive weekly progress emails from CDOT.

The project initially was scheduled to begin March 19 but was delayed to April 1, at least in part because of requests from Yampa Valley Regional Airport officials to minimize the impact of traffic delays to and from the airport during the busy spring break period.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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