CDOT begins project to reduce rockfall risk on CO 133 McClure Pass

News Release

April 9, 2021 - Northwestern Colorado - Travelers can expect traffic holds of up to 20 minutes during most weekdays

GUNNISON & PITKIN COUNTIES — The Colorado Department of Transportation and contractor Geovert will begin a project on Monday, April 19, to mitigate the risk of rockfall along Colorado Highway 133 between the McClure Pass summit and Carbondale. Work will take place at five separate sites and is scheduled for completion by mid-October 2021. “Rockfall mitigation is one of the best ways to maintain safety on Colorado’s rural highways,” Executive Director Shoshana Lew said. “We are excited we can get critical work done on this busy local highway, which is popular with locals and tourists.”

The project will include rock scaling (bringing loose surface material down with pry bars or other equipment) and stabilization; rock excavation and blasting; rockfall wire mesh installation; and construction of a rockfall catchment structure. This project also includes erosion control and localized highway repair at each of the five sites between Mile Points 48 and 60, which is located south of Carbondale. Crews will also grading at the Placita rock disposal site near the northern base of the pass (at MP 47). Travelers can expect full traffic stops of up to 20 minutes at one or two sites during most weekdays (delays will extend beyond the full stop, as queues are cleared in each direction). Please see further details below for maps of where work will take place.

“CO 133 over McClure Pass has been a priority for rockfall mitigation in the area,” Regional Transportation Director Mike Goolsby said. “We appreciate the patience of residents and visitors as CDOT completes this important work.”

Specifically, work and travel impacts will take place at the following sites:

  • Placita Disposal Site, MP 47.1  - Trucks will be entering and exiting here, causing intermittent traffic slowing and brief stops

  • Hunter’s Loop Cut, MP 48 - This site requires blasting of rock material; the work will involve drilling into rock, initially, followed by blasting, likely over a two- to three-day period in late August or early September. There will be one to two periods of midday blasting each of those days, during which time motorists will be fully stopped in both directions for up to one hour, followed by clearing of traffic in each direction. The public will be notified of these periods of extensive delays for blasting at least one week prior, including messages on project signage. The hillside will be further stabilized with the installation of 25-foot-long rock bolts, heavy-gauge cable mesh and a lighter-gauge draped mesh (hung with the use of a crane).

  • Firehouse, MP 52.6 - Work will involve rock scaling (bringing loose material down with pry bars and other equipment), additional excavation with a hammer excavator, and draped mesh.

  • Penny Hot Springs MP 55.2 - Work here requires crews to build a gravity wall, a concrete-faced, gravel rock-filled wall, approximately 21-feet tall, 12-feet thick and 425-feet long, to contain rockfall material.

  • Gray Cut MP 60.20 / Nettles MP 60.3 - These adjacent sites will receive the same mitigation treatment as the Firehouse site, above. The Nettles site will include 15-foot-long rock dowels and a reinforced shotcrete (sprayed concrete) buttress to retain a large boulder.

McClure Pass Rockfall Site

Redstone Access Map

Travel Impacts

Initially, travelers can expect single-lane, alternating traffic from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through the affected work zone. Weekend work is possible, if necessary, to expedite the project’s completion before winter weather arrives. Work hours will likely be extended beyond 5 p.m. as the summer progresses. Traffic may be held for up to 20 minutes at one or two sites, when safety or project activities warrant. Please note, the full travel day will then extend beyond the 20 minute stops at one or two sites, as traffic queues must be cleared in each direction. The significant increase in summer traffic counts will factor into the delay time as well. At Hunter’s Loop Cut (MP 48), there will be one to two periods of midday blasting over two to three days, likely in late August or early September. During these blasting operations, motorists will be fully stopped in both directions for up to one hour, followed by clearing of traffic in each direction.

Holiday Work Suspensions 

There will be no work and no travel impacts over the following holiday time periods/weekends:

  • Memorial Day, May 28 at noon through June 1

  • Independence Day, July 2 at noon through July 6

  • Labor Day, September 3 at noon through September 7

Stay Informed

Motorists are encouraged to call or email to request project location and blasting schedule updates

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:

Remember: Slow For the Cone Zone

The following tips are to help you stay safe while traveling through maintenance and construction work zones.

  • Do not speed in work zones. Obey the posted speed limits.

  • Stay Alert! Expect the unexpected.

  • Watch for workers. Drive with caution.

  • Anticipate lane shifts and merge when directed to do so

  • Expect delays, especially during peak travel times.

  • Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you.

  • Avoid using mobile devices such as phones while driving in work zones.

  • Turn on headlights so that workers and other drivers can see you.

  • Be especially alert at night while driving in work zones.

  • Be patient!

About CDOT

CDOT’s Whole System-Whole Safety program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely. Our approximately 3,000 employees work tirelessly to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve the safety of all modes of transportation. The department manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway, more than 3,000 bridges and 35 mountain passes. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also operates Bustang, the state-owned interregional express bus service. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.