Rockfall fencing project completed in Mount Harris Canyon near Hayden |

Rockfall fencing project completed in Mount Harris Canyon near Hayden

A big rig rolls past the steep cliffs that line U.S. Highway 40 between Hayden and Milner west of Steamboat Springs. The Colorado Department of Transportation recently finished rockfall mitigation work along the stretch of highway that has been the site of numerous rockfalls and landslides in the past.
John F. Russell

— Workers have finished installing fencing on the cliffs in Mount Harris Canyon with the hopes of keeping rocks from falling onto U.S. Highway 40 below.

According to a Colorado Department of Transportation news release, the work involved removing 480 cubic yards of loose rock and debris and installing 212,660 square feet of wire mesh meant to direct rocks into a ditch instead of allowing them to fall onto the highway.

CDOT contracted with Yenter Companies to do the project. The work started in early April and was finished on budget at a cost of $1 million.

The project was paid for with funds from the federal Hazard Elimination System, a state rockfall fund and Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery legislation, known as FASTER. FASTER dollars are collected from increased vehicle registration fees.

“We’re really appreciative of the work,” said Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger, who lives in Hayden and travels that stretch of road sometimes multiple times each day. “I’m going to lobby our commissioners to send a letter of appreciation.”

The fencing was installed on part of the cliffs between mile markers 113 and 120. Monger said the rockfall in that area presented a health and safety issue.

“If we have the opportunity to do things — and save one life out of three years — that’s still a valuable investment for the traveling public,” Monger said.

Falling rocks on the stretch of highway have killed one person and have caused multiple accidents during the past two years.

Monger said the project was important because the highway is highly utilized, especially during the winter when vacationers are traveling from Yampa Valley Regional Airport to Steamboat Springs.

The rockfall mitigation project partially overlapped a resurfacing project under way between mile markers 108 and 114. That $3.7 million project began in mid-June and will continue through mid-September. Guardrails are being repaired in addition to creating a smoother service.

Work on the resurfacing project is being done from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, and pilot cars are guiding alternating lanes of traffic through the work zone. People should plan on delays of as long as 20 minutes during construction hours.

Drivers also should expect delays of 10 to 15 minutes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday in Milner, where paving will be taking place along U.S. 40.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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