Red Mountain Pass Closed Indefinitely
A massive slide forced the pass closure Sunday.
Colorado Department of Transportation reports that Red Mountain Pass will be closed indefinitely. There are more than a half mile of snowslides 10 to 30 feet deep on the south side of the pass along highway 550. The slides include a large amount of debris, rocks, and tree limbs. Additional heavy-duty equipment will need to be brought in to clear the highway.
The snow was brought down on purpose. It's part of CDOT's ongoing avalanche mitigation efforts. The work has been focused on three Colorado mountain passes, Coal Bank, Molas and, Red Mountain. “It took one shot (from an avalanche gun) and we had a ton of snow come down,” says CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes.
“The highway was closed. That’s what we want,” she said. “The last thing we want is that stuff to come down naturally at an unpredicted time when we’ve got the traveling public on the highway. We realize this is an inconvenience for a lot of travelers,” continued Schwantes.
At this time there's no word on when Red Mountain Pass may be reopened. CDOT advises motorists to watch for their continued snow removal efforts, especially alongside mountain pass highways.
We've seen the video of the avalanche along I-70. With this winter's heavy snow comes an increased snowslide danger.
CDOT also reminds drivers that the snowslide risk will continue well into spring. Behind that comes the possibility of rockslides. As the weather warms it loosens rocks along the cliff walls causing them to fall onto the roadway.
Credit: Durango Herald