The Colorado Department of Transportation will spend $1 million to $2 million this summer on a permanent fix for a troublesome section of U.S. Highway 40 on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The Colorado Department of Transportation will spend $1 million to $2 million this summer on a permanent fix for a troublesome section of U.S. Highway 40 on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass.

Permanent fix in store for rough section on east side of Rabbit Ears Pass

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— The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to spend $1 million to $2 million to repair a cumbersome section of U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Anyone who occasionally drives over the pass is probably familiar with the rough section of road near the bottom of the east side of the pass. It typically is marked with signs warning drivers there is road damage ahead.

“The signs are not meant to be permanent, and unfortunately they have been,” CDOT spokeswoman Ashley Mohr said.

The problem is caused by the hillside next to the road at mile marker 156.

“It’s an active landslide site,” Mohr said.

The hill has been sliding and damaging the road for as long as anyone can remember.

Mohr said the road has been measured to slide as much as four inches per week. She said that it has been mostly an inconvenience, and CDOT was not aware of any accidents that have resulted from the rough surface.

“It’s bumpy,” Mohr said. “It’s certainly not a good ride. We have a lot of cyclists going through that area.”

Over the years, CDOT has patched the area, but it never has been a permanent fix.

“It’s been long enough that we don’t want to sink any more money into it,” Mohr said.

CDOT thinks the problem can be fixed by building a 15-foot-high, 500-foot-long retaining wall on the downhill side of the highway. Engineers refer to the type of retaining wall as a soldier pile wall, and it will be anchored into the bedrock.

The project has been put out to bid, and work is expected to take place from mid-June to mid-November. Some minor traffic delays can be expected.

“Hopefully, it will be the solution,” Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said. “It definitely needs to have something done.”

Mohr said the contractor will face at least one known challenge. The area needs to be excavated to build the retaining wall, and it is estimated there is asphalt 20 feet deep from the years of temporary patches.

Two other CDOT projects are being done in the area this summer.

Work is underway to replace the Elk River bridge west of Steamboat Springs. In the next four to six weeks, traffic will be detoured over a temporary bridge that is being built next to the existing bridge. Duckels Construction is overseeing the $3.1 million project.

South Routt residents this summer will be free of major construction on Colorado Highway 131, but CDOT is spending $2 million to repair two culverts at mile markers three and five in Eagle County and five culverts in Routt County between mile markers 36 and 37. The repairs will improve drainage for Colo. 131 and the surrounding area.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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