Crews clearing hazard trees on Berthoud Pass
August 20, 2012
The U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Department of Transportation are removing beetle-killed trees along U.S. Highway 40 over Berthoud Pass.
The clearing started Aug. 8, near Empire, and will continue 27 miles toward Winter Park for an estimated 20 more days.
The dead trees, which are mostly lodgepole pines, pose a threat to motorists and state infrastructure as they weaken over time and may fall without warning.
“Public safety is our top priority, in addition to reducing the risk of falling trees that may damage critical infrastructure,” said Cal Wettstein, Incident Commander of Bark Beetle for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. “Ensuring these major transportation corridors are clear of dead trees is certainly critical to keeping people safe and traffic flowing.”
Work crews will be removing and piling dead trees along the work sites. The timber will be used by the wood products industry.
While no roads will be closed during the operation, lane closures and temporary delays are a possibility.
“With so many dead trees near highways, crews will be working in the rights of way but will try to keep road closures to a minimum,” said CDOT Regional Transportation Director David Eller. “We ask motorists to drive slowly and carefully through the work zones, and thank them for their patience since this work is essential to keeping the public safe.”
Other sites in Colorado that are undergoing clearing are along the south side of the I-70 corridor, which is in its final stages. A project to clear trees from either side of Highway 125 between Stillwater Pass Road and Willow Creek Pass is scheduled to begin in September.
The weakness and potential for beetle-killed trees to fall unexpectedly is important to keep in mind when recreating in beetle-kill areas, especially in windy conditions, officials caution.