Extended Traffic Holds Necessary on US 550 Red Mountain Pass this Thursday, Possibly Friday

October 13, 2015 - Southwestern Colorado/CDOT Region 5 - Wire Theft and Transmission Line Damage Force Utility to Make Additional Repairs

Ouray (October 14, 2015) — As work crews prepared to re-energize the recently-repaired electric transmission line on Red Mountain Pass, they discovered that a power pole had been cut down and that a substantial length of transmission wire had been stolen. To ensure public safety, the repairs, which involve the transport of heavy equipment by helicopter, will necessitate several extended traffic holds on the pass.  On Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16, traffic on US 550 may be held for two to four 30-45 minute periods between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Work is expected to be completed before the weekend.

“This is actually the second act of vandalism that has hit this particular section of line,” said San Miguel Power Association (SMPA) Operations Manager Paul Enstrom.  “Another pole was cut down and more wire was stolen sometime earlier, while the line was de-energized.” 

The 44 KV power line, which can serve as a backup feed for communities from Silverton to Colona was originally knocked out of service in mid-January of 2014, when a massive rockslide occurred on Highway 550, near mile marker 89. Due to the conditions and the challenges of the site, repair work was postponed. Together with businesses, communities and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), SMPA scheduled the repairs for late September – early October, 2015.

Despite unforeseen site-related challenges, SMPA and contract crews finished the repair work on schedule. However, according to Enstrom, “…the repair of the vandalism to the line will require extra work, extra materials and full traffic stops as we proceed.  We apologize for any inconvenience to travelers.”

SMPA is also asking that anyone with information about the vandalism or wire theft, please call the Ouray County Sheriff’s Office at 970-325-7272.

For the most up-to-date information about the travel impacts of this or other projects on state highways, check “Statewide Alerts” and “Road Work” on www.cotrip.org.

San Miguel Power Association, Inc. is a member-owned, locally-controlled rural electric cooperative with offices in Nucla and Ridgway, Colo. It is the mission of San Miguel Power Association to demonstrate corporate responsibility and community service while providing our members safe, reliable, cost effective and environmentally responsible electrical service. SMPA serves approximately 9,600 members and 14,000 meters and supports local communities with $300,000 annually in property taxes and $400,000 in energy efficiency and renewable energy rebates. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.