OURAY, Colo. (CBS4) – Cars are allowed on Highway 550 over Red Mountain Pass in western Colorado once again. The Colorado Department of Transportation reopened the pass on Friday after it closed when significant avalanches dumped multiple feet of snow onto the roadway.
CDOT Maintenance Superintendent Greg Stacy described the work to reopen the road — closed since March 3 — a “difficult and challenging operation.”
“Mother Nature kept hitting us with multiple storms in a row. It was frustrating because the conditions forced us off the mountain for days because of the threat of avalanches hitting the highway. However, we knew the risk was too high and it was not safe to work. It was the right thing to do for the safety of our operators,” Stacy said in a prepared statement.
Officials warned drivers to use caution when going over the pass between Ouray and Silverton. They said there will be equipment on the road clearing snow sometimes, and they said there is a potential for rocks and ice to fall on the road.
CDOT’s efforts to reopen the road included helicopter operations, bulldozers, track hoes, loaders and snow blowers. They said that in addition to trees and branches, the avalanches brought down a 11 foot wide boulder in one area. The avalanches fell over a 20 mile stretch of the pass.
CBS4 meteorologist Ashton Altieri said a storm moving in on Friday could bring 3 to 6 inches of snow to the area.