Rocky road leaves police, motorists on edge |

Rocky road leaves police, motorists on edge

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. PearsonSigns warning of possible falling rock stand on Midland Avenue as cars pass by Saturday. Motorists should be aware as rocks have been falling on the road.

It’s a sure sign of springtime in the Rockies – only it’s coming in the middle of winter.Glenwood Springs police put out signs warning motorists along Midland Avenue from Hager Lane south almost to Cardiff Friday afternoon because of the number of rocks that are rolling down the hillside onto the road.”There’s some rocks coming down. It’s almost like spring conditions. It’s just too doggone warm,” said police chief Terry Wilson.A combination of warmth and moisture is loosening earth along Red Mountain and resulting in rockfall. Wilson said the rocks haven’t been too big. One motorist “whacked a rock and blew a tire out,” he said, but that’s the only incident he’s aware of that has been caused by the rockfall. He said police have received only a few calls from concerned motorists about rocks in the road.”The lady who hit the rock and blew a tire, she was pretty excited,” Wilson said.Anita Barnett, who manages On the Way Market, formerly Four Mile Mountain Market, on Midland, said both she and customers are concerned about the danger along the road.”There’s a lot of rock. It’s very frightening, I’ll tell you that. When it starts to rain, I don’t want to have to come up here,” she said.She said more rocks are coming down than last year.Fortunately, none of them are as big as the one that came down last April 6. A huge boulder crashed into the living room of Hager Lane homeowner Ron Dickman, and a second crashed into another room in his house. The incident caused heavy damage but no injuries.The vertical topography around Glenwood Springs makes the area more rockfall-prone. A massive rockfall in Glenwood Canyon on Thanksgiving Day ripped holes in Interstate 70 that caused more than $1 million in damage and took two months to repair.Wilson remembers a rock “the size of a small piano” that came down on Midland several years ago, crunching the rear quarter panel of a car. The rock landed in the area of Park West subdivision, south of the cliff-bordered stretch of Midland that people consider most vulnerable to rockfall.City engineer Larry Thompson said that a few weeks ago, several days of rain resulted in rocks coming down on Midland, mostly during one evening. Most of the rocks were small, and sloughed off the hill just beside the road.”It wasn’t anything that came from high above,” Thompson said.Wilson said moisture and debris Friday was collecting into little gullies and flowing onto the road in places. Police are checking Midland regularly to monitor conditions and keep the road clear, and ask the public to alert them to problems. Wilson said the danger wasn’t significant enough to consider closing the road. But he advised motorists on Midland to “take your time, be awake and be aware. Really, that’s the big thing is to be watching the road ahead of you cautiously.”Barnett worries about motorists’ safety, given the speed some of them drive on Midland.”If they go fast and a rock’s in the road, they’re going to get hurt,” she said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext.

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