Rockfall Work on US 160 Yellow Jacket, West of Pagosa Springs

May 29, 2012 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - ARCHULETA COUNTY – Today, the Colorado Department of Transportation is beginning a project to reduce the potential for rockfall on US 160 on Yellow Jacket Pass, mile point 115.6, about 15 miles east of Bayfield and just west of Chimney Rock. Rockfall contractor Yenter Companies Inc. is mobilizing equipment to the site today and lane closures will begin tomorrow.

Work will involve drilling and blasting of rock material, bringing down an approximate 100’ by 10’ by 13’ rock overhang down in pieces. Rock material will  be further broken down on the roadway if necessary and hauled away. Scaling (bringing down any loose rock material) by hand and/or machinery will be done as well. The work was contracted Yenter for about $100,000 and will be paid for out of CDOT’s Rockfall Program funds (see below).

“There is a history of rockfall in this area,” CDOT Rockfall Specialist Ty Ortiz said. “We want to proactively remove this overhang to help prevent future failures.”

TRAVEL IMPACTS – The project is expected to be completed on or before June 15. Monday through Friday, motorists can expect some traffic slowing and possibly some single-lane, alternating traffic through the work zone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please note – traffic will be held in both directions during a few periods of blasting (which will not occur every day). When traffic is held, motorists should be prepared for a possible 45-minute wait if crews bring the rock down with one blast. Crews will make every effort to limit blasting operations and thus delay times.

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*CDOT’s Rockfall Program
The Colorado Rockfall Hazard Rating System (CRHRS) sites are ordered in funding priority from 1, which has the highest combination of hazard and risk, to 756 which has the lowest. To determine which sites are of high priority, several factors are analyzed including slope profile, geological characteristics and traffic data.

The rockfall program, started in 1996, was created to track rockfall information, implement a rating system and mitigate potential hazardous areas. When the program first began, CDOT received just $750,000 for projects statewide. Since that time, funding for the Rockfall Program steadily increased to accommodate rising construction costs and allow for additional mitigation across the state. In recent years, the program was receiving $3 to $5 million per year. For the 2012-13 season, the program is receiving about $7 million—which includes $2 million in State Transportation Commission contingency funds that will help supplement projects statewide.

Since the program began, about 70 sites have been mitigated through CDOT’s Rockfall Program. CDOT rockfall specialists also provide additional assistance at nearly 30-40 locations statewide each year in response to rockfall and other activity.