UPDATE: CDOT partially re-opens one lane of Highway 325 to all travelers
Updated at 9:30 a.m. Saturday
Highway 325 has been partially re-opened to the public Saturday morning, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced in a press release.
CDOT maintenance crews worked through the night to install temporary barriers along the highway, making it safer for one-lane alternating traffic to all travelers.
According to the press release, the temporary traffic barriers will protect traffic from the eroded area in the northbound lane. The partial closure of the highway is controlled by a portable traffic light, so travelers will encounter short delays and are urged to drive with caution.
There is an 11-foot width restriction in place. For more information on the road conditions, please visit COtrip.org.
This is a developing story. The Post Independent will update the story as more information becomes available.
Original story: Colorado Department of Transportation engineers closed state Highway 325 Friday about 2 miles north of Rifle Gap Reservoir due to a partial collapse of the roadway late Thursday night.
The impacted section of the highway is between Rifle Gap and Rifle Falls State Park.
Rifle Falls Park, the state’s Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery and the popular rock-climbing destination of Rifle Mountain Park were mostly inaccessible during the closure.
Local residents in the affected area were still being allowed through.
A 200-foot-long by 12-foot-wide section of the northbound lane sloughed off the two-lane highway as it passed close to East Rifle Creek. The area is approximately 7 miles above State Highway 13, and the closure significantly limits access to the area.
Garfield County Sheriff’s Department released a statement saying excessive runoff and the accumulation of underground water led to the road collapse sometime Thursday evening.
“Continued sloughing of the embankment has now extended the road collapse past the centerline,” according to the news release.
CDOT engineers visited the scene twice Friday as they try to assess the damage to the road base.
“They want to take a look and explore every possible solution to the reconstruct that will be needed,” CDOT spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes said.
“This has already been deemed an emergency project, which will expedite the process as much as possible,” she said.
“We know we have some ranches up the road, and we want to make sure we accommodate folks who are residents and allow them to get back and forth from their homes and property,” Schwantes said.
Sheriff’s officials said anyone traveling the route north of the intersection with Garfield County Road 226 (Grass Valley) should be prepared to identify themselves and their destination. Local traffic will be allowed to pass.
Officials said extensive repair work is needed to reopen the highway to two-way traffic.
Flaggers were on site Friday to determine which traffic needs to have access through the damaged area. Engineers met with a contractor early Friday evening looking at options and solutions for fixing the road.
“A long-term solution is in the works to keep this from happening again. Even though it is an emergency repair we are exploring every avenue possible to fix it permanently,” Schwantes said.
Engineers on scene said it is very wet, and the ground is saturated, which has made it difficult for the road to be supported.
The highway will maintain its one lane alternating, with a portable traffic light. Maintenance crews will be monitoring frequently over the weekend.
Schwantes said CDOT will know more once proposals come in from contractors next week.
In a separate release, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said that anyone who had been planning to visit Rifle Falls park and campground or the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery should avoid the area and make alternative plans.
CPW said it will advise campers who were planning to stay at the park about the status of their reservation, and help find alternative locations for recreation.
Alternative roads exist through Silt and New Castle to reach destinations normally accessed from State Highway 325, including the Buford Road (Forest Road 245) to Forest Roads 211 and 825.
However, access is limited to four-wheel-drive vehicles or ATVs, and users should check with local Forest Service officials for directions, maps and other instructions, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
For more information about Rifle Falls State Park and the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, contact the park at 970-625-1607.
For more information about the road and repairs, contact the Colorado Department of Transportation at 719-580-8225.
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