Rock slide danger close to home

DE BEQUE, Colo. Red mountain pass has been closed for more than a week now thanks to a rock slide, a danger that hits close to home.

The Colorado Department of Transportation uses a rating system to determine the likelihood of a rock slide, and they say De Beque Canyon is one of the spots they pay the closest attention to.

The rating scale is based on several factors, including proximity to and make-up of rock in the area, and the amount of traffic that flows through it.

And while De Beque Canyon doesn't have the highest chance for a slide, it's very heavily traveled.

"Those areas where you have higher traffic volumes under hazardous areas tend to rise to the top," says CDOT Geo-technical Program Manager Ty Ortiz. "If you have 15,000 cars per day and only a few rocks falling you still probbaly more likely to affect travelers."

Many slides in Colorado are caused by what is called the freeze-thaw effect.

As water freezes between cracks in the rocks, it expands the spaces, then as it melts, the rock is left with more stress on a bigger, open area.

CDOT says normally, we see freeze-thaw conditions in the spring, but with higher than average winter temperatures during the day that return to below freezing at night, those conditions exist right now.

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