CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Department of Transportation announced Friday the completed installation of the Colorado’s newest remote control avalanche mitigation system, this one on Monarch Pass in central Colorado. It’s the state’s third Gazex setup.

Gazex’s equipment utilizes compressed air and a propane explosion to form a “concussive blast” that prompts slides to occur in a more controlled fashion.

A Gazex device’s explosion on Loveland Pass in 2016. (credit :CBS)

The Gazex devices allow CDOT personnel to trigger avalanches from a safe, secure distance rather than launching explosive rounds by cannon.

The aim: That regular mitigation on a smaller scale and at low-traffic times of day will prevent larger natural slides which require extended road closures and heavy equipment to clear.

This approach also minimizes the amount of ordinance handled by employees and thrown into the environment.

Five years ago, two CDOT employees were injured during avalanche mitigation when a mortar shell detonated prematurely.

A recently installed Gazex unit near Monarch Pass. (credit: RockSol Consulting Group)

The new system is located above State Highway 50 near the Monarch Mountain ski area, 15 miles west of Poncha Springs. Monarch Pass sits on the Continental Divide in the Sawatch Range.

A CDOT contractor, Midwest Rockfall, Inc., was in charge of the installation.

Previously installed Gazex systems are in use on Loveland Pass (U.S. Highway 6) and Berthoud Pass (U.S. Highway 40).

 

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