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Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 4:30 p.m., Colorado National Monument will reopen the west section of Rim Rock Drive between the west (Fruita) entrance station and the Visitor Center to all traffic. Earlier today, that portion of the road had been closed due to public safety concerns and the necessity to bring down a large rock slab that had the potential to come down on its own.
Work crews safely brought down the slab of approximately three cubic yards weighing an estimated six tons. The slab was a rock overhang located at the uphill entrance to Tunnel #2 on the west hill. This rock slab had recently developed new and widening cracks which previously had been stabilized by injections of polyurethane resin in 2007. Due to the unpredictable nature of rockfall, including the size and amount of material that was brought down; motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians were restricted from the closure section throughout the duration of the project starting at 8 a.m. today.
Construction of Rim Rock Drive started during the Great Depression (1931) and was completed in 1950. The path for the road ran through solid rock for most of its length which required drilling, blasting, and removal of the shattered rock. Three tunnels were excavated through solid rock as well. Tunnel #2 was completed during 1936-37.
The work today was accomplished by U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, a local Grand Valley contractor, and the National Park Service.
"We thank the public and area residents for their patience during this removal operation. Safety of the public and staff is always our top priority," says Superintendent Lisa Eckert.