Berthoud Pass avalanche system delayed until 2015 | SkyHiNews.com

Berthoud Pass avalanche system delayed until 2015

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

The installation of an avalanche trigger system on Berthoud Pass will have to wait until next spring, officials say.

Though the U.S. Forest Service approved and permitted the project earlier this summer, late funding for the project's $1.25 million budget meant early winter construction and higher costs that exceeded budget, said Peter Kozinski, the Colorado Department of Transportation's manager for the project.

"We scrambled to put the package together and get it out to ad," Kozinski said. "By the time we did, the construction community was nervous that we would get an early snow, so they loaded their prices up."

The project is now slated for implementation in spring 2015, with a new advertising process occurring later this year.

The Berthoud Pass system will be installed on the Stanley Slide Path, a large avalanche path that crosses U.S. Highway 40 in two places.

CDOT has already purchased the $450,000 Gazex avalanche prevention system, which is currently in a CDOT facility in Evergreen, Kozinksi said.

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The French-made Gazex system uses controlled explosions to push snowpack from avalanche prone areas, preventing the build-up that can lead to a serious avalanche.

The Berthoud Pass project will include five Gazex exploders.

This winter, Kozinski said CDOT will stick with traditional avalanche prevention methods on Berthoud Pass, including the use of artillery shells, to disperse snowpack.

The Berthoud Pass Gazex system will be CDOT's first, though Gazex systems are already used in surrounding states to help mitigate avalanche danger.

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.

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