CDOT plans to install avalanche mitigation infrastructure along the US Highway 50 corridor during the summer and fall months. As described in an earlier post, Monarch Ski Patrol has assisted CDOT for many decades with mitigation work adjacent to the ski area boundary. In recent years, CDOT has made a significant effort towards installing new technologies on Colorado’s mountain passes that has made avalanche mitigation easier and safer while minimizing highway closures during high traffic periods on our highways. Projects thus far have included areas near the Eisenhower Tunnel, Loveland Pass and Berthoud Pass.
There are additional mountain passes that will have these technologies installed either this year or in the near future. The plan for 2019 on Monarch Pass is to install three Gasflex Exploders above the Big Slide avalanche path located just east of the ski area. These units combine propane and oxygen along with a spark to create an explosion inside the open end of the unit. This explosion then makes a shock-wave on the snowpack in the start zone of the avalanche path. This process is conducted when the highway is closed and the slopes are loaded with snow. The goal is to create planned avalanches that reduce the chance of one coming down while the highway is open to the public. These units also allow more frequent mitigation work that results in shorter clean up times and operations that can be conducted outside of peak traffic hours.
CDOT recently held a meeting at Monarch with potential contractors for the project. Initial Construction will begin this summer with installation scheduled for September. For more info on the project, check it out here.