Officials monitoring rockfall
MINTURN — Colorado Department of Transportation’s geo-hazard team monitors 750 rockfall sites across the state, and local officials are encouraging community feedback about road conditions during the spring runoff.
“Each road has a patrol, and those people know their roads inside and out,” said Tracy Trulove, the department’s communications manager for Region 3, which includes Eagle County. “But we do expect the traveling public to be the eyes and ears for us, too, because we can’t be everywhere.”
The area’s rockfall season generally starts as soon as daytime temperatures start melting snow. The resulting runoff trickles into cracks between rocks. When the water freezes again at night, expansion can work rocks loose, and gravity takes over. Most rockfalls are small, but the freeze-thaw cycle can send very large rocks crashing down.
Additionally, accelerating snowmelt adds erosion to the contributing factors.
A Feb. 15 slide in Glenwood Canyon closed Interstate 70 for almost a week.
“If you see something you’re concerned about,” Trulove said, “then it’s a good thing to go to the website.”
Trulove said that lots of areas get debris in them and undergo everyday maintenance.
“In spring, we often do get a lot of rocks on the road and our crews clear them out without a lot of incident,” she said. “This is not unusual this time of year.”
In Minturn, rockfall has been an issue “since (U.S.) Highway 24 was laid through town,” said Earle Bidez, mayor pro tem. He added that the state has authority over the road.
“We are aware of many other places in Colorado where this is a danger,” Trulove said. “It’s just constant maintenance that needs to happen.”