CDOT begins cleanup of 25-ton rock in Dowd Junction, lane closures expected | VailDaily.com

CDOT begins cleanup of 25-ton rock in Dowd Junction, lane closures expected

A large section of rock sits next to Interstate 70 after falling from the ledge above (upper right) in Dowd Junction near Vail. Rockfall hazards become more frequent during the freeze and thaw cycles of spring and fall.

DOWD JUNCTION — The Colorado Department of Transportation has begun the process of removing a 25-ton boulder that has been sitting alongside Interstate 70 since November. Department spokesperson Tracy Trulove said motorists can expect lane closures Friday, Sept. 22, in the area between mile markers 171 and 173.

"The specialty unit team chose to use an expanding material to slowly break the rock apart and not interfere with shutting down I-70 to do blasting, which is a much more involved operation," Trulove said Tuesday, Sept. 19. "The rock should slowly break over the next 72 hours very slowly and quietly. Once the rock is broken into pieces, our team will haul it out."

The rock fell from the rock face directly above it and so far has not impacted the highway, aside from leaving a slight bulge in the concrete barrier alongside the road.

Trulove said the department was notified of the incident in "the middle of the night, in late November" last year and that rockfall picks up during the fall due to nightly freeze-thaw cycles.

The Geo Hazards Team at the Colorado Department of Transportation inspects all large rockfall incidents in Colorado, monitoring roughly 750 rockfall sites, including Dowd Junction.