Colo. DOT blasts 2.5-million-pound boulder blocking highway

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Updated Jun 8, 2019
A rock slide May 24 left this massive boulder on a Colorado highway.A rock slide May 24 left this massive boulder on a Colorado highway.

A rock fall that started on a ridge 1,000 feet above a Colorado highway May 24 left a boulder the size of a building blocking the two-lane road.

The 2.5-million-pound boulder destroyed a section of CO 145 between Cortez and Telluride. On May 26, the Colorado Department of Transportation had the boulder blasted and the remains hauled off so it could open a temporary road. See the video of the blast below:

#BoulderBusting A crew has successfully blasted one of the massive boulders that destroyed a section of CO 145 between Cortez and Telluride. CDOT officials are extremely pleased with the outcome. Trucks immediately started hauling the fragments away so that traffic can begin flowing on a temporary road being built by CDOT’s maintenance division. The task of hauling away the rubble may not be completed until tomorrow, (Monday, May 27). The enormous 2.5-million-pound rock (or 1150 tons) tumbled and plowed its way to the two-lane highway from a ridgeline some 1000 feet above on Friday. CDOT officials say the second massive boulder, which created an eight-foot trench across both lanes and landed on the east side of the road, may remain where it sits. #SWCODOT #CO145 #RockSlide #RockFall #MontezumaCounty #Dolores #Cortez #DoloresCounty #Rico #SanMiguelCounty #Telluride

Posted by Colorado Department of Transportation on Sunday, May 26, 2019

Another boulder, weighing about 8.5 million pounds, created an 8-foot trench across both lanes and landed on the east of the road. Gov. Jared Polis has declared the boulder a “geographic masterpiece,” and it will not be removed, according to the The Denver Post. Instead, it will be kept where it is as a landmark and called Memorial Rock. He said leaving it be would also save the state $200,000.

The remains of the blasted boulder were hauled off to open a temporary road.The remains of the blasted boulder were hauled off to open a temporary road.

The department was able to open a one-lane, alternating-traffic temporary dirt road by May 27 and use portable, automatically timed stoplight signals to get north and south traffic moving through the rock fall area.

An aerial shot of CO 145 where two massive boulders fell onto the highway. The one on the right, estimated to weigh 2.5 million tons, was blasted so a temporary road could be opened. The boulder on the left is estimated to weigh 8 million pounds, and the CDOT may just leave it where it is.An aerial shot of CO 145 where two massive boulders fell onto the highway. The one on the right, estimated to weigh 2.5 million tons, was blasted so a temporary road could be opened. The boulder on the left is estimated to weigh 8 million pounds, and the CDOT may just leave it where it is.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the governor’s announcement that the boulder will become a landmark.