(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

OURAY, Colo. (AP) — The Colorado Department of Transportation is using 30-pound bombs to dislodge rocks that have kept U.S. Highway 550 in southwestern Colorado closed since Jan. 12.

Highway 550 Rock slide work (credit: CDOT)

Highway 550 Rock slide work (credit: CDOT)

The closure has severed the only direct route from Ouray to Silverton, normally a 70-mile drive over Red Mountain Pass. A detour over Dallas Divide and Lizard Head Pass adds nearly 100 miles to the trip.

Transportation officials say an average of 2,200 vehicles a day use the highway.

Officials say a giant slab about the size of a football field came loose and crumbled into smaller pieces, punching a hole in the highway.

It’s unusual for slides to occur in the middle of the winter, but days were unseasonably warm, setting up a freeze-thaw cycle that contributed to the slide.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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