Reconstruction work began has begun on the section of Colorado Highway 145 damaged by the rockfall north of Dolores over Memorial Day Weekend.
The highway will not be rerouted, and total construction costs – which include initial emergency response, blasting, temporary repairs and the permanent reconstruction – are estimated to be about $1.3 million, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
The construction started Tuesday and is expected to wrap up by mid-July.
On the afternoon of May 24, two house-size boulders slid down the western slope above Colorado Highway 145 at mile marker 21, about 10 miles north of Dolores. The smaller boulder landed on the road, while the other crossed the highway and landed just off the roadway after creating a 10-15-foot trench through it.
The 2.3-million-pound rock blocking the roadway was blasted and removed, but the 8.8-million-pound boulder that crossed the highway will be preserved and named “Memorial Rock,” per Gov. Jared Polis’ order.
Reconstruction will include a road widening to allow for more shoulder space, a new guardrail on the east side of the highway, an embankment on the west side of the highway to protect the highway from possible future mud or rock slides, and the relocation of a utility fiber optic line.
Now that construction has begun, traffic will be impacted, said CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes in a statement, and drivers may encounter delays of up to one hour.
“Portable stop lights will continue controlling vehicle movement, both northbound and southbound, through a one-lane, alternating traffic configuration,” she said. “The lights will control traffic 24-7, day and night.”
These long traffic stops will only be in place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., she said, and there is an 11-foot width restriction. Work hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with occasional Saturday work if needed.
Schwantes added that drivers should be careful of construction crews, and that there is no walking in the work zone area or to the Memorial Rock, as most of the rock is on private property and to do so would be trespassing.