Media Contact: Brian Pettet - Pitkin County Road and Bridge Director - 970-379-3703
Following the herculean effort to open Maroon Creek Road before Memorial Day weekend, Pitkin County’s 8-person road and bridge heavy equipment crew is now focusing its attention on the remaining 264 miles of county-owned roads and bridges. Because of the record-breaking winter and historic avalanche cycle, it’s likely that some of the county’s more remote roads and bridges will remain impassable for most of the summer, if not all year.
“We’re still assessing the damage to our roads caused by the huge avalanches that occurred last winter,” said Public Works Director, Brian Pettet. “There is still a tremendous amount of snow in the high country and we’re seeing slide paths covering our roads with giant old-growth trees uprooted and piled up like matchsticks,” Pettet said.
Large avalanche path left debris covering Pearl Pass Road - Photo Pitkin County Road and Bridge
As the busy summer season gets underway, road and bridge crews must focus their attention on regular dust control, ditch maintenance, and rock mitigation on the county’s most heavily travelled roads including Red Mountain, McLain Flats, Owl and Brush Creek, and the Castle and Maroon Creek roads.
Many of Pitkin County’s most popular backcountry roads including Pearl Pass and Montezuma Basin, and Express and Lincoln Creek were impacted by avalanches last winter. Not only have avalanches covered sections of these roads with huge trees and rocks, but there is also a possibility that bridges have been wiped out in some cases.
“Removing snow, trees and rock is one thing, but if we have to replace bridges that will slow down the opening of some roads even more,” Pettet said. “We just won’t know the extent of the damage until we can get up there and see for ourselves.”
To help the public understand better how Pitkin County prioritizes road maintenance a map is available at www.pitkincounty.com/roadmaintenance. Roads colored red are the highest priority, orange next highest, followed by roads colored green then blue as lowest priorities.
“We have every intention of trying to get the more popular backcountry roads open at some point. It just depends on snowmelt and the availability of our Road and Bridge crews to focus attention on them,” Pettet said.
View of avalanche debris across Pearl Pass Road - Photo Pitkin County Road and Bridge
View of avalanche path cover Pearl Pass Road - Photo Pitkin County Road and Bridge