Rockfall mitigation in Dowd Junction finished for the week
EAGLE COUNTY – Locals trying to get back and forth from Vail were relieved to hear that rockfall mitigation work went better than expected at Dowd Junction on Monday morning, and Interstate 70 will not have to close again this week.
Bob Wilson with the Colorado Department of Transportation said crews will be back later this summer, however, perhaps even later this month, and that it will likely require a similar shutdown of both lanes of I-70 and the bike path between mile markers 171 and 173.
By noon on Monday, the 30-minute shutdowns required to remove rock formations from the steep slope above the canyon had backed traffic up for 5 miles or more in each direction. Wilson acknowledged motorists frustrations, saying workers couldn’t risk an errant rock hitting a vehicle, cyclist or foot passenger trying to get through the canyon.
“We know it gets pretty backed up, especially about noon, one o’clock out there,” he said. “But when it comes to safety, we’re always going to err on the side of caution.”
The crews that worked on Dowd Canyon were removing rock by hand, with small tools. They finished up the more urgent work there and moved on to DeBuque Canyon near Grand Junction, Wilson said.
“They said everything was secured and in good enough shape that they could move on to more urgent matters,” Wilson said. Once that’s taken care of, we’ll return to Dowd Canyon.”
The Dowd Junction closures were originally scheduled to last through Thursday, Wilson said, but work went smoother than expected on Monday.
“It’s better for us to schedule more time as opposed to scheduling too little time and saying ‘we’ll need to be out there another three days irritating you,’” he said. “It turned out that we needed less time than anticipated on this initial work.”
Wolves were a problem for ranchers when Kip Gates’ great-great-grandfather homesteaded in the area. He doesn’t want the problem to return.