Rockfall Update - US 550 Red Mountain Pass

January 22, 2014 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - Crews will work through the weekend; assessment of reopen could come early next week.

OURAY COUNTY – This morning, before rockfall crews climbed up the mountainside, CDOT dropped 10 30-lb bombs from Silverton Mountain’s helicopter into the talus slope (debris field). This brought down some rock (about 10 inches high and 200 feet long along the roadway) but moreover, it may have stabilized the area somewhat.

During mitigation work today a rockslide pulled out lines that had been set for anchoring the netting. These lines will have to be reset before the netting can be placed.

“Today’s rockfall shows the continuing hazards at this location both for travelers and workers on the slope,” CDOT Region 5 Transportation Director Kerrie Neet said. “Every morning we see more rocks that have come down overnight—rocks that are falling from nearly 1,000 feet above the roadway with high velocity. We are working as quickly as possible to reduce the risk before we open the highway.”

Silverton Mountain continues to assist by way of helicopter work, now helping to re-secure the anchoring cable and ultimately flying the rockfall nets into position on the steep slope. The 47 rockfall netting panels are 600 pounds each, 12’ wide by 72’ long and will cover about 40,000 square feet of the mountainside.

The estimated progression of work will look like this:  Thursday crews will continue to place ground anchors for net placement; by Friday afternoon netting can begin and will likely continue into Sunday afternoon. After the cable netting is installed, Sunday or Monday, the next step will be to look at the areas outside the net (please see red and yellow zones denoted on Media Room site photo) to scale rocks from those areas.

“Based on the team’s assessment of work today, we will have a better idea early next week when the project will be completed,” Neet said. “We will continue to keep the public updated each day on our progress.”

UPDATED INFORMATION:  Briefs and photos are posted on CDOT’s Media Room page at full press releases, which have been issued each night after the end-of-day briefing meeting, are posted at:

ALTERNATE ROUTE: From Ouray to Durango (a distance of 70 miles using US 550) motorists will instead use SH 62 from Ridgway over Dallas Divide, SH 145 over Lizard Head Pass, then US 160, for a trip of about 154 miles. For information on other CDOT projects, the public may call 511 or log onto CDOT’s traveler information web site at Better yet, sign up to receive email and/or text messages by going to CDOT’s web site at and choosing the green phone icon in the upper right corner.