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

June 5, 2012 - PROJECT UPDATE - Rock blast at 2 p.m. tomorrow could cause a lengthy delay.

ARCHULETA COUNTY – The Colorado Department of Transportation continues its 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. began work on May 29 and lane closures began on May 30.

Work involves 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.”

NEW!! TRAVEL IMPACTS – Tomorrow, June 6, crews will bring down the large rock overhang. At 2:00 p.m., traffic on US 160 will be stopped in both directions while blasting and rock clearing take place. Traffic could be held for an hour before at least one lane can be opened up for single-lane, alternating travel. Depending upon the amount of material brought down, this same closure could occur the following Tuesday, June 12—highway variable message boards will alert travelers.

“Yenter crews are very good at what they do,” CDOT Maintenance Foreman Cody Osborne said. “They will clear the area for motorists as safely and as quickly as possible.”

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.

SIGN UP FOR CDOT ROAD INFORMATION: Please sign up to receive FREE highway information updates for this area and others by going to CDOT’s web site – and choosing the green cell phone icon on the upper right corner. For information on other CDOT projects statewide, the public may log on to or call 511. Thank you for going Slow for the Cone Zone!

*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.