Red Canyon Road closed for 90 days
January 10, 2022
Garfield County has extended a closure of Red Canyon Road (County Road 115) for an additional 90 days due to dangerous conditions on the primitive, steep stretch between Highway 82 and the Spring Valley area.
“We had a weather event where it started to rain and then it froze, after which we had snow fall on top of it,” said Garfield County Road and Bridge Director Wyatt Keesbery to the Board of County Commissioners. “This made it very, very icy. The condition of that road even in the summertime is not good.”
CR 115 features a steep grade, narrow roadway, and a deep canyon along the north end. The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office enforces all closures on county roads, and the closure can be lifted if conditions merit an earlier opening. The road has been closed since late December and the 90-day extended closure began on Jan. 10.
“This is a closure for an extended amount of time, and statutorily, the board must take certain requirements to close a public road for more than just emergency purposes,” said Commissioner John Martin. “We can close it for up to 90 days, but we must receive updates on repairs or other efforts to satisfy the need for the closure. We’re doing this in the proper procedural manner, so road and bridge isn’t exposed to extreme danger based upon the condition of that road.”
The closure was approved unanimously, 3-0.
Garfield County crews working tirelessly to ensure safe roads through winter
Winter rain, followed by snow and ongoing freezing weather has caused impacts to county roads across Garfield County’s 3,000 square miles. Public safety deputies and officers, first responders, and road operations crews have worked tirelessly over the past several weeks to address crashes and other travel incidents for the traveling public.
Between December 19, 2021, and January 2, 2022, Garfield County Road and Bridge crews distributed 3,000 tons (6,000,000 pounds) of sanding material at a cost of $90,000 on county roads. The county is separated into three districts for road operations, and they have each used similar amounts of sanding materials.
Currently, the department has fewer staff members than normal, due to positions being open, as well as to illness among employees. Road and bridge plow drivers, road maintenance and support staff worked through the holidays, and continue to work on long shifts for road operations.
The team does not operate a 24-hour service, so generally begins winter days plowing at 3 a.m., and then completes a 10- to 12-hour shift. The crew works holidays and weekends the same as weekdays. Plow operations are conducted in three tiers: priority routes are concentrated on first, (such as school bus routes), then secondary roads, and finally non-prioritized roads. View the plow route maps at garfield-county.com/road-bridge/winter-maintenance/.
District 1 – Glenwood Springs
Crews plow 329.74 miles of road. These miles include both hard surface and gravel roads. Crews use a combination of tandem axel dump trucks, motor graders, and pickups to plow these roads.
District 2 – Rifle
This district has 423.90 miles of road. These miles include both hard surface and gravel miles. Teams employ a combination of tandem axel dump truck, motor graders, a medium-sized truck, and pickups to plow these roads.
District 3 – Silt
County roads here include 556.94 miles. These miles include both hard surface and gravel roads. These roads require a combination of a tandem axel dump truck, motor graders, medium-sized trucks, and pickups to plow.
“We are very proud of the vast effort and commitment to safety that our teams expend in safely plowing our routes countywide,” said Garfield County Deputy County Manager Fred Jarman. “They have made themselves available for long hours and during times many of us were at homes with our families, to ensure the safety of our traveling residents and visitors.
“The past few weeks of intense weather have demanded much greater attention and care on their part to plow this more than 1,300 miles of county roads,” he continued, “We ask that our residents not only show respect for the working crews, but also express appreciation and use safe behavior when encountering our plow drivers.”
The county cannot guarantee any route will remain open continuously in winter conditions, especially in instances of hazards, public safety closures, or on routes with steep grades. Safety closures may be frequent, and some extended. Routes must meet safety requirements to remain open. Travelers should expect to encounter not only short delays or detours, but also extended ones at times.
County roads that have locked gates or road barriers may present safety risks and crossing these barriers or tampering with them is punishable by law. In addition, traveling within these areas may cause harm to people and vehicles with serious consequences.
With winter snow and frequent closures on Interstate 70 due to accidents, residents are asked to plan ahead, slow down, and reach their destinations safely along both county routes and highways countywide. Also, please move over safely for emergency vehicles, both en route to incidents and when alongside any county road, highway, or interstate.