CDOT fights through San Juan cement to make Red Mountain passable

CDOT vehicles work to remove snow from US 550 on Red Mountain and the snow shed about five miles south of the Ouray overlook. Workers started last Monday afternoon tackling a 20-foot snow bank blocking the entrance of the shed and made progress throughout the day.
Plaindealer photo by Dalton Carver

by Dalton Carver

After several attempts Monday afternoon to ascend a 20-foot pile of what is affectionately known as San Juan cement, a Colorado Department of Transportation bulldozer finally trundles its way over the massive snow bank that was blocking the entrance to the snow shed just south of Ouray on Red Mountain Pass. A shout erupts from CDOT area maintenance supervisor, Vance Kelso, and echoes across CDOT’s operation site.
“He’s through!” Kelso shouts to the other CDOT crew in the area.
“Now he just needs to not take out any of the lighting,” chuckles Mike McVaugh, CDOT Region 5 transportation director, referencing the brand new shed lighting installed last summer.
With the increased avalanche activity in the San Juan Mountains this winter, the snow shed has been filled with snow from nearby slides and was impassable Monday afternoon.
Having completed its initial mission, the dozer pushes its way through the shed, packing down snow for other CDOT vehicles to make entry. As the day goes on, the dozer makes its way further south on Red Mountain Pass, which is located on an easement from the United States Forest Service. The journey of the dozer symbolizes CDOT’s quest to...

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