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Photos: Red Mountain Pass finally reopens, but rock slide fix only temporary

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In the days after our previous update, published on February 4, the Colorado Department of Transportation (which provided the photos and accompanying captions below) worked on installing rockfall fencing along the highway. The fencing was intended as a second safeguard for drivers, supplementing a series of nets that were stretched over the cliff in a helicopter-assisted engineering feat made even more challenging by weather conditions that didn't always cooperate.

After six of ten fence posts called for in the safety plan were installed on Thursday, February 6, Greg Stacy, CDOT's deputy superintendent for the Durango maintenance section, was upbeat about finishing the task soon. A few days earlier, officials had started to allow some traffic to go through, but only during a pair of two-hour blocks in the morning and evening. But in a statement, Stacy said, "Our target opening is Friday night if everything goes extremely well." It didn't, unfortunately. Delays pushed into and through the weekend. But late Monday came the following blast, spelled out, appropriately enough, in all capital letters: "RED MOUNTAIN PASS IS OPEN AS OF 8:30 P.M. TONIGHT!" That's not the end of CDOT's Red Mountain Pass mission. As noted by the department, "The on-road fencing will serve as an additional temporary safeguard in this still slide-prone area until a more permanent solution can be implemented."

In other words, additional work will be needed in order to move from single, alternating lane traffic to a complete return to normalcy. Meanwhile, however, the workers on this incredible project deserve credit for finally ending one of the longest Colorado highway closures in recent memory.

Continue to see our previous coverage of the efforts to reopen Red Mountain Pass, including photos and videos.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts