Runoff closes Elkhead detour road


Some area residents will have to take a detour around a detour.

The detour across Elkhead Reservoir was closed Monday afternoon because of high spring runoff. The road is underwater.

The detour was built for residents during construction at Elkhead that will make the dam 25 feet higher and nearly double the reservoir's capacity.

"We spent a lot of money on that detour to make the dam construction as painless as possible," said Ray Tenney, senior water resources engineer with the Colorado River Water Conservation District. "We never expected this kind of runoff."

As of April 1, the snowpack in Elkhead Creek basin stood at 122 percent of average, and the creek was flowing into the reservoir at three times its average rate for this time of year, Tenney said. Water four feet deep is spilling from the existing dam.

Runoff into the reservoir peaks at about midnight, Tenney said. On Sunday night, it was flowing at 1,850 cubic feet per second. The outlet for the reservoir is showing 1,000 cubic feet per second, which means the water level in Elkhead is rising, and the detour road around the dam is now underwater.

Drivers traveling south of the reservoir will have to take Moffat County Road 29 to Moffat County Road 36 to Routt County Road 76 (same road) to Routt County Road 78.

Drivers also can detour through Hayden, then go north on Routt County Road 76.

For Al Carroll, a Routt Coun--ty resident who lives east of the reservoir, the detour is a significant inconvenience.

"I go out that way about once a week," Carroll said. "I'm looking at an hour's drive to get to Craig."

The road will be closed until further notice. When the water recedes, the dam likely will need repairs, Tenney said.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or

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