Southwest Colorado CO 145 Rockslide: Reconstruction of damaged highway begins

June 13, 2019 - Southwestern Colorado

Reconstruction of a rock slide damaged highway has begun in southwest Colorado. Over the Memorial Day weekend, a section of Colorado Highway 145 between Cortez and Telluride was destroyed by massive rock slide. Contractor, Williams Construction of Norwood, CO, has been hired to perform the emergency repairs. The reconstruction work started this week, Tuesday, June 11, and is expected to last up to 30 working days, or wrapping up possibly by mid-July.  

CO 145 will not be re-routed or re-aligned. The highway will maintain its original alignment. The estimated cost of the initial emergency response, blasting, temporary repairs and the permanent reconstruction is estimated at $1.3 million.

The re-construction will include:

  • Widening of the road surface to allow for additional shoulder space

  • New guardrail installed on the east side of the highway to ensure the safety and protection of passing vehicles from one the massive boulders that remains on the side of the road

  • An embankment built on the west side (slope side) of the highway to catch any future potential mud or rock slides from reaching the highway

  • Relocation of a utility fiber optic line


CDOT PHOTO: A construction crew works with heavy equipment to move rubble from a previously blasted rock. The fragmented sandstone will be used to build an embankment on the west side (slope side) of the highway. The embankment bench is intended to catch any future potential mud or rock slides from reaching the highway.

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CDOT PHOTO: Rubble from one of the blasted boulders now creates a new drainage and debris path at the rock fall site on CO 145.


Portable stop lights will continue controlling vehicle movement, both northbound and southbound, through a one-lane, alternating traffic configuration. The lights will control traffic 24-7, day and night. Now that construction work has started, travelers are advised that they may encounter periodic lengthy delays of up to one hour. These lengthy traffic stops will be implemented only between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. An 11-ft width restriction is in place. Work hours will be Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with occasional work on Saturdays if necessary.

For the safety of the construction crews and the traveling public:

  • Watch for workers, flaggers and equipment

  • No stopping of vehicles in the work zone area

  • No walking in the work zone area

  • No walking to the Memorial Rock (a majority of the rock is on private property ― no trespassing!)

  • Traffic light signals are automatically timed, so it is imperative that all vehicles get through the work zone before the light changes


On Friday, May 24, two house-sized boulders tumbled and plowed down the hillside from a ridge 1000 feet above CO 145 destroying a section of road. There were no injuries. One rock landed directly on the highway. It was blasted and the rubble moved. The second rock rolled through both lanes, creating a 10- to 15-foot trench, and coming to rest on the opposite side of the highway. It will remain where it landed.

Last week Colorado Governor, Jared Polis announced that the massive rock would be called "Memorial Rock." The name not only signifies when the geological occurrence happened (over the national holiday weekend), but also honors those who have served our country.

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CDOT PHOTO: A vehicle makes is way southbound through the work zone on the temporary one-lane road. “Memorial Rock”, seen here on the opposite side of the highway, is the larger of the two massive boulders that fell from the ridge above over the Memorial Day weekend. It weighs an estimated 4400 tons. The smaller boulder was blasted and removed, since it landed directly on the highway. It was estimated at weighing 1150 tons.  



Travelers are urged to “know before you go.” Gather information about weather forecasts and anticipated travel impacts and current road conditions prior to hitting the road. CDOT resources include:


To heighten safety awareness, CDOT recently announced its Whole System ― Whole Safety. initiative. This campaign takes a systematic statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behavior, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for those traveling by all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission - to get everyone home safely.


CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, and airports, and administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated inter-regional express service. Governor Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s inter-modal mobility options.