OURAY, Colo. (CBS4) — Work crews continue to repair damage to an iconic Colorado mountain roadway that was damaged by a severe thunderstorm more than a week ago.

The July 8th storm clogged the cliff-side inlet just north of the Engineer Pass section of U.S. Highway 550 south of Ouray.

Fast-flowing debris filled the drainage system and caused water, mud and rocks to spill over the highway, ripping out the road’s main supports on the other side.

hwy550 recon 1 cdot CDOT Fixing Million Dollar Highway After Flash Flood

A damaged “crib wall” is being reconstructed on US 550, south of Ouray. Steel posts and mesh are being filled with concrete to stabilize and support the roadway. Damage was caused by a fast-moving debris flow July 8th. (credit: Colorado Dept of Transportation)

Colorado Department of Transportation crews are reinforcing the road by drilling support beams into bedrock beneath the road surface. They are also rebuilding and expanding the “crib wall” structure which supports the road.

hwy550 recon 2 cdot CDOT Fixing Million Dollar Highway After Flash Flood

Rows of steel posts are being driven horizontally under the road surface to stabilize and support the US 550 south of Ouray. (credit: Colorado Dept of Transportation)

“It was originally thought that only temporary repairs could be accomplished and a larger scaled project would be required later this fall,” said CDOT Program Engineer Kevin Curry, “but the teamwork has resulted in a lasting fix.”

Crews are also conducting rockfall mitigation in the area.

“This is the perfect time to take advantage of rock scaling and cleaning loose material near the mesh and fencing on the Ruby Walls cliff-side,” said Curry.  “The recent storm event deposited a large amount of debris in the mesh and fencing that was installed several years ago.”

hwy550 recon 3 cdot CDOT Fixing Million Dollar Highway After Flash Flood

While road repairs are being made, rock scaling crews are cleaning loose material from mesh and fencing on the Ruby Walls cliff side. of US 550 south of Ouray. (credit: Colorado Dept of Transportation)

The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of the month. Until then, traffic is alternating one direction at a time through the construction zone.

The highway was first built in 1883.

There was no cost estimate given for the repairs to the road which is referred to as the Million Dollar Highway.

 

 

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