CO 145 Lizard Head Pass Avalanche Mitigation System

About the Project

The Colorado Department of Transportation will begin the installation of remotely controlled avalanche mitigation equipment above CO Highway 145 Lizard Head Pass, about 1 mile north of Rico (MP 48.5 - 49.5). Construction efforts will consist of installing five towers on the mountain and ridgeline above the highway. The towers will be used for the preventative, controlled triggering of avalanches at known snow slide paths in this area. CDOT’s Avalanche Mitigation Program is overseeing the installation of the units, performed by Wysenn Avalanche Control of Switzerland.

As part of CDOT’s Whole System — Whole Safety initiative this new remotely controlled system will ensure a safer avalanche mitigation program for both CDOT maintenance personnel and the travelling public. Remote systems have proven more reliable and safer for avalanche mitigation personnel to operate. The new system will also provide more efficient and swift avalanche control operations, making travel in the area safer for motorists. 

“CO 145 and Lizard Head Pass is the alternate route for travelers heading north when the US 550 mountain corridor is closed for emergencies,” said CDOT Winter Operations Program Manager, Jamie Yount. “This new avalanche mitigation system will help us keep CO 145 open more readily, offering a higher, more dependable level of service for motorists, particularly when avalanche conditions and cycles are occurring in the San Juan Mountains during significant winter storm periods.” 

CDOT currently operates more than 30 remote systems at several locations on high mountain highways and the I-70 mountain corridor.

Project Facts

  • Cost: $1.4 million
  • Contractor: Wysenn Avalanche Control
  • Timeline: August - September 2020
  • Location: CO 145, 1 mile north of Rico

Lizard Head Pass Work Zone

Work Schedule and Traffic Impacts

  • Generally, motorists should expect minimal traffic impacts since most work will take place off of the highway. 
  • Periodic full traffic closures will be required and will last for no more than 20-minute intervals, to facilitate rock scaling and helicopter operations. Otherwise, CO 145 will remain open as normal. 
  • A speed reduction of 40 mph will be enforced through the project work zone. 
  • Travelers are advised to visit for updated information through the duration of the project.