Red mountain Pass OPEN!
Saturday avalanche mitigation efforts proved successful for a helicopter crew that set out to “knock-down” more than 25 slide paths that were primed for collapsing onto highways. The bulk of the operations took place on US Highway 550 Red Mountain Pass which has been closed since Sunday, March 3. Last week’s unsettled weather and high avalanche danger prevented crews from performing snow removal operations on Red Mountain Pass.
By mid-morning on Saturday, after the first of several slides had been triggered and fallen onto the closed highway, equipment operators with their arsenal of heavy machines headed down the closed road to start pushing snow out of the way. Crews started on the south side of the pass, just north of Silverton. By early afternoon mitigation had been completed on the north side of the pass allowing crews to work near the Riverside snow shed, just south of Ouray. Crews are assigned to 12-hour shifts working around the clock in order to get the pass open.
“We have never encountered avalanche slides to this magnitude. We’re pleased with the outcome of the avalanche control operations. Crews can now work without risk of potential slides,” said CDOT Area Maintenance Supervisor, Vance Kelso. “We are remaining optimistic that with cooperative weather and decreasing avalanche danger, we can get this pass opened within the next two weeks.”
Mitigation operations were also performed Saturday morning on two other southwest Colorado passes, US 550 Molas Pass and CO 145 Lizard Head Pass. Both passes were opened to the traveling public by mid-morning.
RED MOUNTAIN PASS HIGHWAY CLOSED TO EVERYONE: RED MOUNTAIN PASS IS NOW OPEN FOR EVERYONE!
Photo (above) courtesy of CDOT. 2019 Red Mountain Pass cleanup.