Spring cleaning on the river | PostIndependent.com

Spring cleaning on the river

Special to the Post Independent/Ed Kosmicki Colorado Department of Transportation employees clear debris away from the Grand Avenue bridge pier Friday. They were transported via a Colorado Department of Wildlife boat.

Sunny skies and warmer weather meant a day in a boat for some spring cleaning on the Colorado River for several Colorado Department of Transportation employees on Friday. CDOT, with the Colorado Department of Wildlife’s boating assistance, cleared away large dead trees lodged on large rocks on the Grand Avenue Bridge pier in the middle of the river. Even though the trees had been there for several years, it was necessary to remove them before they provoked water-form eddies that could eventually wash out the pier, said CDOT junior foreman Les Stanton.

This weekend’s warm weather will cause the water to rise with spring runoff, he said, and Friday was the best time to clean out the river before high water. CDOT will soon clear some debris on the Roaring Fork River near Basalt, he said. Cleaning such debris is commonplace for the department, and this year there is less debris than other years, he said.

After piling into a dinghy near No Name, three CDOT employees floated down the river to the Grand Avenue Bridge armed with chainsaws, ropes and CDOW guide. After landing on the rocks that help stabilize the pier, the trio – which normally tries to avoid getting run over by semis while working on highway projects – roped up, cranked up their chainsaws, and sliced up the driftwood washed onto the bridge abutment years ago during a time of high water. The men climbed over the pile of wood, sliced it up, and sent the pieces rolling down the river.

Stanton stood onshore with his camera ready for one of the workers to fall in the river. None fell. For them, he said, it’s a welcome reprieve from their regular duties. “It’ll be kind of fun,” he said. “They like doing this kind of stuff.”

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