Oct 19, 2011 6:23 PM by Matt Stafford

Rocks blasted from the sides of Highway 24

The 15 by 40 foot section, about 10 feet thick, section of rock is what Colorado Department of Transportation workers were blasting away from the sides of Highway 24 on Wednesday -- just west of Cave of the Winds. It's exactly the kind of stuff that they don't want falling on your car.

"Our maintenance guys have noticed a couple of rock falls at this particular location, and small little rock fall events can sometimes lead to a much larger failure," says CDOT Rock Fall Specialist Ty Ortiz.

It was a nightmare in August of last year for the Hodgeman family; they were heading through Ute Pass on a trip from Wisconsin. Boulders turned their camper into Swiss cheese, and their vacation into a disaster.

"Something went through the window right behind one of my boys," Brad Hodgeman told News 5 shortly after the accident. Luckily everyone was okay.

Even with the chunk that was removed Wednesday gone, this is something they'll have to keep checking.

"Over time that rock weathers," says Ortiz.

As for those nets you may have seen along the side; CDOT says they aren't complete protection.

"That doesn't really stop them from falling; those rocks still fall, and that net eventually guides them into any ditch that we may have there," says Ortiz.

After the dynamite climbers shake down the rest of the loose stuff, but it looks like this blast got most of the job done.

"It followed those seams just the way we were hoping it would," Ortiz told News 5 after the blast.

This will hopefully keep drivers safe, at least for now.

They'll visually monitor the rocks they've worked on during the week; they say remote sensors may be used to keep track of moving rocks. Work will continue through Friday.


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