US 550 Red Mt. Pass will be closed indefinitely after a massive avalanche mitigation effort brought down a 40 to 60 feet of new snow onto the highway and filled the Riverside snow shed (which is designed to shield drivers over in case of a natural avalanche). This is the official statement from CDOT:
.“We are describing it as “incredible and daunting” and it will keep US 550 Red Mt. Pass CLOSED.
Yesterday, helicopter avalanche control operations were performed on more than 20 avalanche paths on three mountain passes in SW CO. As a result of this mitigation, incredible amounts of snow and debris hit the road and require the continued and indefinite closure of Red Mt. Pass.
Of great concern is the West Riverside slide which brought down 40 to 60 feet of new snow onto the highway and filled the Riverside snow shed.
These significant runs only reinforce the high avalanche danger warnings issued this week by our partnering agency the Colorado Avalanche Information Center – CAIC, along with our decision to close this pass for safety.”
“For those not familiar with this highway (and other high mountain pass roads), snow sheds and tunnel structures are built on the highway at some locations of known avalanche paths that consistently hit the highway. (Riverside shed on Red is a prime example.) These sheds and tunnels typically protect the traveling public from the unexpected natural slides that can occur.”
images from CDOT